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4 Reasons to Sell This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market.
  • Buyers are often competing with one another for the listings that are available.
  • Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

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25% of Homes with a Mortgage are Now Equity Rich!

Rising home prices have been in the news a lot lately and much of the focus has been on whether home prices are accelerating too quickly, as well as how sustainable the growth in prices really is. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising prices, however, is the impact that they have on a homeowner’s equity position.

Home equity is defined as the difference between the home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens (loans) on the property. While homeowners pay down their mortgages, the amount of equity they have in their homes climbs each time the value of their homes go up!

According to the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, “13.9 million U.S. properties in Q2 2018 were equity rich — where the combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value — representing 24.9% of all U.S. properties with a mortgage.”

This means that nearly a quarter of Americans who have a mortgage would be able to sell their homes and have a significant down payment toward their next home. Many who sell could also use their new-found equity to pay off high-interest credit cards or help children with tuition costs.

The map below shows the percentage of properties with a mortgage in each state that were equity rich in Q2 2018.

25% of Homes with a Mortgage are Now Equity Rich! | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner looking to take advantage of your home equity by moving up to your dream home, contact an agent in your area to discuss your options!


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Home Prices: The Difference 5 Years Makes

CoreLogic recently released their Home Price Index ReportOne of the key indicators used in the report to determine the health of the housing market was home price appreciation. CoreLogic focused on appreciation from July 2013 to July 2018 to show how prices over the last five years have fared.

The graph below was created to show the 5-year change in price from July 2013 to July 2018 by price range.

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

As you can see in the graph, the highest price appreciation occurred in the lowest price range with 48% growth, while the highest priced homes appreciated by 25%. This has been greatly fueled by the lack of inventory of homes available at the lower price ranges and high demand from first-time buyers looking to enter the market.

Where were prices expected to go?

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists and asks them to project how residential home prices will appreciate over the next five years for their Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES).

According to the Q3 2014 survey results, national homes prices were projected to increase cumulatively by 19.5% by December 2018. The bulls of the group predicted home prices to rise by 27.8%, while the more cautious bears predicted an appreciation of 11.2%.

Where are prices headed in the next 5 years?

Data from the most recent HPES shows that home prices are expected to increase by 20.0% over the next 5 years. The bulls of the group predict home prices to rise by 31.2%, while the more cautious bears predict an appreciation of 9.3%.

Bottom Line

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


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If You Are Thinking of Selling? You Must Act NOW!

If you thought about selling your house this year, now more than ever may be the time to do it! The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned about the concept of supply and demand, so we understand that the best time to sell something is when the supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors, recently commented:

Contract signings inched backward once again last month, as declines in the South and West weighed down on overall activity.”

Yun goes on to say:

The reason sales are falling off last year’s pace is that multiple years of inadequate supply in markets with strong job growth have finally driven up home prices to a point where an increasing number of prospective buyers are unable to afford it.”

In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction, including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.

Bottom Line

As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas.


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Are Homebuyers Starting to Hit the ‘Pause’ Button?

For the last several years, buyer demand has far exceeded the housing supply available for sale. This low supply and high demand have led to home prices appreciating by an average of 6.2% annually since 2012.

With this being said, three of the four major reports used to measure buyer activity have revealed that purchasing demand may be softening. Here are the four indices, how they measure demand (methodology), what their latest reports said, and a quick synopsis of the report.

The Foot Traffic Report
by the National Association of Realtors

Methodology: Every month SentriLock, LLC provides NAR Research with data on the number of properties shown by a REALTOR®. Lockboxes made by SentriLock, LLC are used in roughly a third of home showings across the nation. Foot traffic has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future.

Latest Report: “Foot Traffic climbed 3.2 points to 55.8 mid-summer in July. Additionally, the diffusion index is higher than last year by 13.5 points. Despite a healthy economy and labor market, supply and new construction remains unable to keep up with buyer demand.”

Synopsis: Buyer demand remains strong.

The Showing Index
by ShowingTime

Methodology: The ShowingTime Showing Index® tracks the average number of buyer showings on active residential properties on a monthly basis, a highly reliable leading indicator of current and future demand trends.

Latest Report: “Showing activity throughout the country increased by 0.3 percent year over year in July, the third consecutive month that the U.S. ShowingTime Showing Index recorded buyer interest deceleration compared to the previous year. The June 2018 figures revealed a 0.0 percent change in showing traffic from 2017, while May showed a 1.2 percent year-over-year increase. The 12-month average year-over-year increase was 4.6 percent.”

Synopsis: Buyer demand is softening

Realtors Confidence Index
by the National Association of Realtors

Methodology: 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.

Latest Report: “REALTORS reported slower homebuying activity in July 2018…The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered at 62, down from the same month one year ago (69). This is the fifth straight month (since March 2018) that Realtors reported a decline in buyer activity compared to conditions one year ago.”

Synopsis: Buyer demand is softening

The Real Estate Broker Survey
in the ‘Z’ Report by Zelman and Associates (subscription needed)

Methodology: Proprietary survey results of real estate executives.

Latest Report: “While we continue to expect a resumption of growth in resale transactions on the back of easing inventory in 2019 and 2020, our real-time view into the market through our Real Estate Broker Survey does suggest that buyers have grown more discerning of late and a level of “pause” has taken hold in many large housing markets. Indicative of this, our broker contacts rated buyer demand at 69 on a 0-100 scale, still above average but down from 74 last year and representing the largest year-over-year decline in the two-year history of our survey.”

Synopsis: Buyer demand is softening

Bottom Line

Again, three of the four most reliable measures of buyer activity are reporting that demand is softening. We had a strong buyers’ market directly after the housing crash which was immediately followed by a strong sellers’ market over the last six years.

If demand continues to soften and supply begins to grow (as is projected to happen), we will return to a more neutral market which will favor neither buyers nor sellers. This “more normal” market will be better for real estate in the long term.


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Home Prices Have Appreciated 6.9% in 2018

Between 1987 and 1999, which is often referred to as the ‘Pre-Bubble Period,’ home prices grew at an average of 3.6% according to the Home Price Expectation Survey.

Every month, the economists at CoreLogic release the results of their Home Price Insights Report, which includes the actual year-over-year change in prices across the country and their predictions for the following year.

The chart below shows the forecasted year-over-year prices for 2018 (predictions made in 2017). According to their predictions, the average appreciation over the course of 2018 should be 4.8%, which is still greater than the ‘normal’ appreciation of 3.6%.

Home Prices Have Appreciated 6.9% in 2018 | Keeping Current Matters

If we layer in the actual price appreciation that has occurred this year, we can see that over the course of 2018, home prices have appreciated by an average of 6.9% and have outpaced projections all year!

Home Prices Have Appreciated 6.9% in 2018 | Keeping Current Matters

What does this mean?

The tale of today’s real estate market is one of low inventory, high demand, and rising prices. The forces at work can be simply explained with the theory of supply and demand. That being said, if a large supply of inventory were to come to the market, prices may start to appreciate closer to the forecasted rate which would STILL be greater than the historic norm!

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner whose house no longer meets your needs, now may be a great time to list your home and capitalize on the equity you have gained over the last year to make a significant down payment on your next home!


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NAR Reports Show It’s A Great Time to Sell!

We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when the demand for that item is high and the supply of that item is limited. The last two major reports issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed information that suggests that right now continues to be a great time to sell your house.

Let’s look at the data covered in the latest Pending Home Sales Report and Existing Home Sales Report.

THE PENDING HOME SALES REPORT

The report announced that pending home sales (homes going into contract) are down 2.3% from last year and have continued to fall on an annual basis for seven straight months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, had this to say:

“The reason sales are falling off last year’s pace is that multiple years of inadequate supply in markets with strong job growth have finally driven up home prices to a point where an increasing number of prospective buyers are unable to afford it.”

Takeaway: Demand for housing is strong and will continue to grow in 2019. Without an influx of new listings for sale, pending home sales will continue to decline. Listing now means you will be able to take advantage of the demand currently in the market.

THE EXISTING HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data point revealed in the report was not sales-based, but was instead the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:

  • Total housing inventory decreased 0.7% to 5.34 million homes available for sale in July
  • This represents a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace
  • Sales are now 1.5% below a year ago

There were two more interesting comments made by Yun in the report:

“Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million.”

In real estate, there is a guideline that often applies: When there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see appreciation; between 6-7 months is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation; and more than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer’s market and should expect depreciation in home values. As Yun notes, we are (and will remain) in a seller’s market and prices will continue to increase unless more listings come to the market.

“Listings continue to go under contract in under a month, which highlights the feedback from Realtors® that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately-priced properties. Existing supply is still not at a healthy level, and new home construction is not keeping up to meet demand.”

Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market. Prices will continue to rise if a sizable supply does not enter the market.

Bottom Line

If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers that are still out looking for your house.


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4 Reasons Why Fall 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 report reveals that home prices have appreciated by 6.2% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.1% 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 already increased by half of a percentage point, to around 4.5% in 2018. 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 half a percentage point to around 5.1% 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 homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgageeither yours or your landlord’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.


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Home Prices Up 6.49% Across the Country! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

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

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5 Reasons You Should Sell This Fall!

Here are five reasons why listing your home for sale this fall 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! In fact, more often than not, multiple buyers end up competing with each other to buy the same homes.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now 

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in 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, a homeowner stayed in his or her home for an average of six years, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. Many homeowners have a pent-up desire to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years 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 that 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 44 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 abundance of inventory available in these higher price ranges has created a buyer’s market for anybody looking to purchase these homes. 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!

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.1% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

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

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

The latest Existing Home Sales Report issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that home sales have decreased for four consecutive months and are at their slowest pace in over two years. This has some industry leaders puzzled considering the fact that the economy is strengthening, unemployment is down, and wages are beginning to rise. This begs the question: “Where are the buyers?”

Actually, agents in the field of most communities are still seeing strong desire from prospective purchasers. They have a list of potential buyers ready to go if the right houses come on the market and they claim it is not a shortage of demand, but is instead a shortage of inventory that is causing the market to soften.

Why is there a shortage of inventory?

You only need to look at the graph below to understand:

Why are Existing Home Sales Down? | Keeping Current Matters

New construction sales over the last ten years are far below historic numbers from 1995-2002.

A recent industry report looked at building permits and concluded:

“If construction over the past decade matched historic norms, accounting for population change, the country would have had 2.3 million more single-family home permits.”

That decade of not building enough homes is the primary reason for the concerns about today’s market.

Wait, weren’t we talking about ‘existing’ home sales?

Some may argue that NAR’s sales report deals with existing home sales and not new construction, and they would be correct. However, reports have shown that one of the main reasons why existing homeowners are not selling is because they can’t find homes that meet the needs of their current lifestyles. Historically, the upgrades in a newly constructed home were the answers to those needs.

Over the last decade, however, there were fewer homes built to satisfy this move-up seller. Consequently, there are many homeowners who stayed in their homes for a longer tenure, instead of putting their homes up for sale.

Bottom Line

As more new homes are being built, there will be more housing inventory to satisfy current demand which will cause prices to moderate and sales volumes to increase.


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Top 3 Myths About Today’s Real Estate Market

There are many conflicting headlines when it comes to describing today’s real estate market. Some are making comparisons to the market we experienced 10 years ago and are starting to believe that we may be doomed to repeat ourselves. Others are just plain wrong when it comes to what it takes to qualify for a mortgage.

Today, we want to try and clear the air by shedding some light on what’s causing some of these headlines, as well as what’s truly going on.

Myth #1: We Are Headed for Another Housing Bubble

Home prices have appreciated year-over-year for the last 76 straight months. Many areas of the country are at or near their peak prices achieved before the last housing bubble burst. This has many worried that we are headed towards another housing bubble.

Reality: The biggest challenge facing today’s real estate market is a lack of homes for sale! Demand is strong, as many renters have come off the fence and are searching for their dream homes.

Historically, a normal market requires a 6-month supply of inventory in order for prices to rise with the rate of inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) there is currently a 4.3-month supply of inventory.

The US housing market hasn’t had 6-months inventory since August 2012! The concept of supply and demand is what is driving home prices up!

Myth #2: The Rumored Recession Will Lead to Another Housing Market Crash

Economists and analysts know that the country has experienced economic growth for almost a decade. When this happens, they also know that a recession can’t be too far off. But what is a recession?

Merriam-Webster defines a recession as “a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two consecutive quarters.”

Reality: Recession DOES NOT equal housing crisis. Many people associate these two terms with one another because the last time we had a recession it was caused by a housing crisis. According to the Federal Reserve, over the last 40 years, there have been six recessions. In each of the previous five recessions, home values appreciated.

Myth #3: There is an Affordability Crisis Looming

Rising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home.

There are many different affordability indexes supported by different organizations that all measure different data. For this reason, there is a lot of confusion about what “affordable” actually means.

The monthly cost of a home is determined by the home’s price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it. According to Freddie Mac, interest rates have risen from 3.95% in January to 4.59% just last week.

Reality: As we mentioned earlier, home prices have appreciated year-over-year for the last 76 months, largely driven by high demand and low supply.

According to a recent study by Zillow, the percentage of median income necessary to buy a home in today’s market (17.1%) is well below the mark reached in 1985 – 2000 (21%), as well as the mark reached in 2006 (25.4)! Interest rates would have to increase to 6% before buying a home would be less affordable than historical norms.

The starter-home market has appreciated at higher levels (9.4% year-over-year) than any other market. One reason for this is the fact that many of the first-time buyers who have flocked to the starter-home market are being met with high competition. For some hopeful buyers, it may take more than a good offer to stand out from the crowd!

Bottom Line

There is a lot of confusion in today’s real estate market. If your future plans include buying or selling, make sure you have a trusted advisor and market expert by your side to help guide you to the best decision for you and your family.

Attention Agents: Join us later today for a free webinar detailing Why the Housing Market Will Survive the Next Economic Slowdown” at 2PM EST/11AM PST. Your clients will have questions and we will help you confidently answer them! Save your seat now!


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Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing in 2019

Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association are all projecting that home sales will increase nicely in 2019. Below is a chart depicting the projections of each entity for the remainder of 2018, as well as for 2019.

Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing in 2019 | Keeping Current Matters

As we can see, Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe that homes sales will increase steadily over the next year. If you are a homeowner who has considered selling your house recently, now may be the best time to put it on the market.


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Rent or Buy: Either Way You’re Paying A Mortgage!

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

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”:

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

With home prices rising, many renters are concerned about their house-buying power. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained:

Over the last three years, renter house-buying power has increased fast enough to keep pace with house price appreciation, so the share of homes that a renter can afford to buy has remained the same since 2015.

Although mortgage rates are expected to rise, they are still low by historic standards, and real household incomes are the highest they have ever been. Assuming this trend continues, our measure of affordability, which takes into account income, interest rates, and house prices, indicates that homeownership is still within reach for renters.”

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

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.51% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.


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What State Gives You the Most ‘Bang for Your Buck’? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The majority of states in the Midwest and South offer a lower cost of living than states in the Northeast and West.
  • The ‘biggest bang for your buck’ comes in Mississippi where, compared to the national average, you can actually purchase $115.74 worth of goods for $100.
  • For more information regarding the methodology used to create this map, visit the Tax Foundation.

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What Does the Recent Rash of Price Reductions Mean to the Real Estate Market?

Last week, in a new report from Zillow, it was revealed that there has been a rash of price reductions across the country. According to the report:

  • There are more price cuts now than a year ago in over two-thirds of the nation’s largest metros
  • About 14% of all listings had a price cut in June
  • Since the beginning of the year, the share of listings with a price cut increased 1.2%
  • This is the greatest January-to-June increase ever reported, and more than double the January-to-June increase last year

Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas further explained:

“A rising share of on-market listings are seeing price cuts, though these price cuts are concentrated at the most expensive price-points and primarily in markets that have seen outsized price gains in recent years.”

What this DOESN’T MEAN for the real estate market…

This doesn’t mean home values have depreciated or are about to depreciate.

A seller may put a home worth $300,000 on the market for $325,000 hoping a bidding war will occur and an overanxious buyer will pay more than its actual value. That has happened often over the last few years. If the seller gets no offers and reduces the price to $300,000, it doesn’t mean the home dropped in value. It is still worth $300,000.

Home prices will continue to appreciate over the next 12 months. In this same report, Terrazas remarks:

“It’s far too soon to call this a buyer’s market, home values are still expected to appreciate at double their historic rate over the next 12 months, but the frenetic pace of the housing market over the past few years is starting to return toward a more normal trend.”

What this DOES MEAN for the real estate market…

This does mean that sellers should be more conservative when it comes to the price at which they list their homes – especially sellers in the upper end of each market.

Sellers have been listing their homes at inflated prices hoping a super-hot market will deliver a buyer willing to pay virtually any price to ensure they don’t lose the house. That strategy has worked somewhat successfully over the last two years. However, the time that strategy would have worked may have passed.

Again, quoting Aaron Terrazas in the report:

“The housing market has tilted sharply in favor of sellers over the past two years, but there are very early preliminary signs that the winds may be starting to shift ever-so-slightly.”

Bottom Line

Prices are not depreciating. However, if you want to sell your house quickly and with the least amount of hassles, pricing it correctly from the beginning makes the most sense.


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Having Trouble Saving Enough for Your Down Payment? Crowdfund It!

You read that right! First-time buyers across the country are getting creative when it comes to saving the necessary down payment to buy a home.

Many couples are asking their wedding guests to contribute to their “Down Payment Fund” rather than fulfilling a traditional registry. This is fueled by the fact that many couples live together prior to marriage and already have the necessary items to make a house a home…they just need the house!

The average wedding in the United States has 120 guests who give wedding gifts valued, on average, at $186. This means that couples could walk away from their nuptials with over $22,000 towards their down payment!

Services like HomeFundMe allow friends, family members, and almost anyone else in a buyer’s network to contribute funds toward the buyer’s down payment. Contributors can determine, at the time of their donation, if their gifts are ‘conditional’ or ‘non-conditional’ on the beneficiary buying a home.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “about 400 borrowers have used HomeFundMe to help buy homes since the program launched in October and on average, they raise about $2,500.” The article went on to explain that most borrowers use these funds in combination with their personal savings to shorten the time needed to achieve their goal of homeownership.

There are more and more programs surfacing from lenders that allow buyers to put down as little as 3% to buy their dream home. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan programs require 3% down payments, while FHA programs require as little as 3.5%, and VA Loans are often approved with 0% down!

Bottom Line

Gone are the days of 20% down or no loan! If your dreams include buying a home of your own in the next year, you can get creative with your down payment savings to make it happen!


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The Net Worth of a Homeowner is 44x Greater Than A Renter!

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. Their latest survey data, covering 2013-2016 was recently released.

The study revealed that the median net worth of a homeowner was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).

These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.

Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth

As we’ve said before, simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity in your home.

That is why, for the fifth year in a row, Gallup reported that Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment. This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26% and then gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

Greater equity in your home gives you options

If you want to find out how you can use the increased equity in your house to move to a home that better fits your current lifestyle, meet with a real estate professional in your area who can guide you through the process.


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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 they hit 5% to start searching for your dream home!

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Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 and 2018

Some are attempting to compare the current housing market to the market leading up to the “boom and bust” that we experienced a decade ago. They look at price appreciation and conclude that we are on a similar trajectory, speeding toward another housing crisis.

However, there is a major difference between the two markets. Last decade, while demand was being artificially created by extremely loose lending standards, a tremendous amount of inventory was coming to the market to satisfy that demand. Below is a graph of the inventory of homes available for sale leading up to the 2008 crash.

Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 and 2018 | Keeping Current Matters

A normal market should have approximately 6 months supply of housing inventory. As we can see, that number jumped to over 11 months supply leading up to the housing crisis. When questionable mortgage practices ceased, and demand dried up, there was a glut of inventory on the market which caused prices to drop as there was too much supply and not enough demand.

Today is radically different!

There are those who believe that low mortgage rates have created an artificial demand in the current market. They fear that if mortgage rates continue to rise, some of the current demand will dry up (which is a possibility).

However, if we look at supply again, we can see that the current supply of homes is well below the norm of 6 months.

Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 and 2018 | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

We will not have a glut of inventory like we did back in 2008 and home values won’t come tumbling down. Instead, if demand weakens, we will return to a normal market (approximately a 6-month supply) with historic levels of appreciation (3.6% annually).


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Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts

It should come as no surprise that buying a home in a good school district is important to homebuyers. According to a report from Realtor.com, 86% of 18-34 year-olds and 84% of those aged 35-54 indicated that their home search areas were defined by school district boundaries.

What is surprising, however, is that 78% of recent homebuyers sacrificed features from their “must-have” lists in order to find homes within their dream school districts.

The top feature sacrificed was a garage at 19%, followed closely by a large backyard, an updated kitchen, the desired number of bedrooms, and an outdoor living area. The full results are shown in the graph below.

Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts | Keeping Current Matters

Buyers are attracted to schools with high test scores, accelerated academic programs, art and music programs, diversity, and before and after-school programs.

With a limited number of homes available to buy in today’s real estate market, competition is fierce for homes in good school districts. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com, explained further,

“Most buyers understand that they may not be able to find a home that covers every single item on their wish list, but our survey shows that school districts are an area where many buyers aren’t willing to compromise.

For many buyers and not just buyers with children, ‘location, location, location,’ means ‘schools, schools, schools.’” (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

For buyers across the country, the quality of their children’s (or future children’s) education ranks highest on their must-have lists. Before you start the search for your next home, meet with a local real estate agent who can explain the market conditions in your area.


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Have You Outgrown Your Starter Home?

For many Americans, buying their first home is their first taste of achieving part of the American Dream. There is a sense of pride that comes along with owning your own home and building your family’s wealth through your monthly mortgage payment.

It may seem hard to imagine that the first home you purchased (which made your dreams come true) might not be the home that will allow you to achieve the rest of your dreams. The good news is that it’s ok to admit that your home no longer fits your needs!

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, prices in the starter home market have appreciated faster than any other category over the last year, at 9.4%. At the same time, inventory in this category has dropped 14.2%.

Have You Outgrown Your Starter Home? | Keeping Current Matters

These two stats are directly related to one another. As inventory has decreased and demand has increased, prices have been driven up.

This is great news if you own a starter home and are looking to move up to a larger home as the equity in your home has risen as prices have gone up. Even better is the fact that there is a large pool of buyers out there searching for your starter home to help them achieve their American Dream!

Bottom Line

If you have outgrown your starter home, contact a local real estate professional who can explain the market conditions in your area and help you find your next home!


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Are You Thinking of Selling Your Home? Competition Is Coming!

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will rise over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Sales Report, the number of building permits issued in June was 850,000, a 0.8% increase from May.

How will this impact buyers?

More inventory means more options. Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist, explained that this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:

“The continued year-over-year growth in completions means more homes on the market in the short-term, offering some immediate relief in alleviating housing supply shortages.”

How will this impact sellers?

More inventory means more competition. Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can expect:

  1. A great price on their home as buyers outbid each other for it.
  2. A quick sale as buyers have such little inventory to choose from.
  3. Fewer hassles as buyers don’t want to “rock the boat” on the deal.

Bottom Line

If you are considering selling your house, you’ll want to beat this new competition to market to ensure that you get the most attention on your listing and the best price for your house.


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5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional Before Entering the Market!

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite the adventure. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ‘FSBO,’ but it’s not as easy as it may seem. That’s why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal!

The 5 reasons you need a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates and home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. So you found your dream house, now what?

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?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyers (who want the best deals possible), to the home inspection companies, all the way to the appraisers, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start in order to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you its true value. According to a recent article by the National Association of Realtors, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than the prices of similar properties sold by real estate agents:

FSBOs earn an average of $60,000 to $90,000 less on the sale of their home than sellers who work with a real estate agent.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional!

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the 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

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic, so why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?


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Millionaire to Millennials: Owning Your Home Can Help You Retire Sooner!

In a CNBC article, self-made millionaire David Bach explained that: “Buying a home is the escalator to wealth in America. Homeownership can also help you retire early, that is, if you pay your mortgage off.

Bach suggests that homebuyers should, “Take out a 30-year mortgage, but with the intention of paying it off in 25, 20 or ideally, 15 years.”

How does he suggest you do this? Here’s the secret:

“…If you were paying $1,000 a month, now you’re going to make $1,100 payments every month. Inform the bank that you are doing this and that you want the extra $100 a month to be applied to the principal (not the interest).”

What will happen to your mortgage?

Bach explains that, “If you keep this up, you’ll wind up paying off your 30-year mortgage in about 25 years. Increase your monthly payment by 20 percent, and you’ll have that mortgage retired in about 22 years.”

Bottom Line

Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire gave simple advice – buy a home and pay off your mortgage early so that you can retire sooner with the money you will have saved!

Who is David Bach?

Bach is a self-made millionaire who has written nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers. His book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He is one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and USA Today bestseller lists.

He has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show, appearing more than 100 times, as well as a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS. He has also been profiled in many major publications, including the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.


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