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Existing Home Sales Slowed by a Lack of Listings [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The inventory of existing homes for sale has dropped year-over-year for the last 29 consecutive months and is now at a 3.9-month supply.
  • Existing home sales are currently at an annual pace of 5.48 million, the highest pace since June of this year, but down 0.9% from October 2016.
  • NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, had this to say: “While the housing market gained a little more momentum last month, sales are still below year ago levels because low inventory is limiting choices for prospective buyers and keeping price growth elevated.”

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Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage?

There is little doubt that it is easier to get a home mortgage today than it was last year. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), published by the Mortgage Bankers Association, shows that mortgage credit has become more available in each of the last several years. In fact, in just the last year:

  • More buyers are putting less than 20% down to purchase a home
  • The average credit score on closed mortgages is lower
  • More low-down-payment programs have been introduced

This has some people worrying that we are returning to the lax lending standards which led to the boom and bust that real estate experienced ten years ago. Let’s alleviate some of that concern.

The graph below shows the MCAI going back to the boom years of 2004-2005. The higher the graph line, the easier it was to get a mortgage.

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | Keeping Current Matters

As you can see, lending standards were much more lenient from 2004 to 2007. Though it has gradually become easier to get a mortgage since 2011, we are nowhere near the lenient standards during the boom.

The Urban Institute also publishes a Home Credit Availability Index (HCAI). According to the Institute, the HCAI:

“Measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates … it is easier to get a loan.”

Here is a graph showing their findings:

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | Keeping Current Matters

Again, today’s lending standards are nowhere near the levels of the boom years. As a matter of fact, they are more stringent than they were even before the boom.

Bottom Line

It is getting easier to gain financing for a home purchase. However, we are not seeing the irresponsible lending that caused the housing crisis.


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Access is an Important Factor in Getting Your House SOLD!

So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you with the entire process, and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to potential buyers.

There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is Access, followed by Condition, Financing, and Price. There are many levels of access that you can provide to your agent so that he or she can show your home.

Here are five levels of access that you can give to buyers, along with a brief description:

  1. Lockbox on the Door – this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
  2. Providing a Key to the Home – although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
  3. Open Access with a Phone Call – the seller allows showings with just a phone call’s notice.
  4. By Appointment Only (example: 48-Hour Notice) – Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.
  5. Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2pm or for only a couple of hours a day) – This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.

In a competitive marketplace, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.


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Homeowners: Your House Must Be Sold TWICE

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%+ over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.

If prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the 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 an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home.

Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges anyone looking to buy or sell in today’s market to remember the impact of this challenge:

“Based on the HPPI, it appears homeowners in the markets where prices are rising faster than the national average – like Denver, Seattle and San Francisco – are continuing to underestimate just how quickly home values are rising, so the average appraisal is higher than homeowner estimate.

On the inverse of that, homeowners in areas where the values aren’t rising as fast may think they are rising faster than they are, leading to the appraisal lagging the estimate.”

The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last 12 months.

Homeowners: Your House Must Be Sold TWICE | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Every house on the market must be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might 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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Top 4 Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home, or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most “Return On Investment” (ROI).
  • While big projects like adding a bathroom or a complete remodel of a kitchen are popular ways to increase a home’s value, something as simple as updating landscaping and curb appeal can have a quick impact on a home’s value.

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Your Friends Are Crazy Wrong If They’re Telling You Not to Buy

The current narrative is that home prices have risen so much so that it is no longer a smart idea to purchase a home. Your family and friends might suggest that buying a home right now (whether a first-time home or a move-up home) makes absolutely no sense from an affordability standpoint. They are wrong!

Homes are more affordable right now than at almost any time in our country’s history except for the foreclosure years (2009-2015) when homes sold at major discounts. As an example, below is a graph from the latest Black Knight Mortgage Monitor showing the percentage of median income needed to buy a medium-priced home in the country today in comparison to prior to the housing bubble and bust.

Your Friends Are Crazy Wrong if They're Telling You Not to Buy | Keeping Current Matters

As we can see, the percentage necessary is less now than in those time periods.

The Mortgage Monitor also explains that home affordability is better today than it was in the late 1990s in 47 of 50 states.

 

Your Friends Are Crazy Wrong if They're Telling You Not to Buy | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Your friends and family have your best interests at heart. However, when it comes to buying your first home or selling your current house to buy the home of your dreams, getting the whole story from a real estate professional is crucial.


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Feeling ‘Stuck in Place’? You Aren’t Alone… And There’s Hope!

Whether you are a renter who is searching for your dream home or a homeowner who feels like your only option is to renovate, you have at least one thing in common: feeling stuck in place.

According to data from the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the average amount of time that a family stays in their home remained at 10 years in 2017. This mark ties the highest marks set in 2014 and 2016. Back in 1985, when data was first collected on this subject, homeowners stayed in their homes for an average of only 5 years.

There are many reasons why homeowners have decided to stay and not to sell. A recent Wall Street Journal article had this to say,

“Americans aren’t moving in part because inventory levels have fallen near multidecade lows and home prices have risen to records. Many homeowners are choosing to stay and renovate, in turn making it more difficult for renters to enter the market.” 

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist for CoreLogic, equated the lack of inventory to “not having enough oil in your car and your gears slowly [coming] to a grind.”

Historically, a normal market (in which prices increase at the rate of inflation) requires a 6-7 month supply of inventory. There hasn’t been that much supply since August of 2012! Over the course of the last 12 months, inventory has hovered between a 3.5 to 4.4-month supply, meaning that prices have increased and buyers are still out in force!

Challenges in the new-home construction market have “helped create a bottleneck in the market in which owners of starter homes aren’t trading up to newly built homes, which tend to be pricier, in turn creating a squeeze for millennial renters looking to get into the market.”

“Economists said baby boomers also aren’t in a hurry to trade in the dream homes they moved into in middle age for condominiums or senior living communities because many are staying healthy longer or want to remain near their children.”

So, what can you do if you feel stuck & want to move on?

Don’t give up! If you are looking to move-up to an existing luxury home, there are deals to be had in the higher-priced markets. Demand is strong in the starter and trade-up home markets which means that your house will sell quickly. Work with your real estate professional to build in contingencies that allow you more time to find your dream home; the right buyer will wait.


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Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeksFreddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 3.5%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, 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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7 Reasons to List Your Home This Holiday Season

Every year at this time, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to put their homes on the market for the first time, while others who already have their homes on the market decide to take them off until after the holidays.

Here are seven great reasons not to wait:

  1. Relocation buyers are out there. Many companies are still hiring throughout the holidays and need their employees in their new positions as soon as possible.
  2. Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now.
  3. You can restrict the showings on your home to the times you want it shown. You will remain in control.
  4. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.
  5. There is less competition for you as a seller right now. Let’s take a look at listing inventory as compared to the same time last year:

7 Reasons to List Your Home This Holiday Season | Keeping Current Matters

  1. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop when the holidays come. Buyers who were unable to find their dream home during the busy spring and summer months are still searching!
  2. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge reaching new heights in 2018, which will lessen the demand for your house.

Bottom Line

Waiting until after the holidays to sell your home probably doesn’t make sense.


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Veterans Affairs 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.
  • So far in 2017, $188 billion has been 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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A Housing Bubble? Industry Experts Say NO!

With residential home prices continuing to appreciate at levels above historic norms, some are questioning if we are heading toward another housing bubble (and subsequent burst) like the one we experienced in 2006-2008.

Recently, five housing experts weighed in on the question.

Rick Sharga, Executive VP at Ten-X:

“We’re definitely not in a bubble.”

“We have a handful of markets that are frothy and probably have hit an affordability wall of sorts but…while prices nominally have surpassed the 2006 peak, we’re not talking about 2006 dollars.”

Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics:

“There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.”

“Steady as she goes. Prices continue to rise. Sales roughly flat.…Overall this market is in an almost boring place.”

Bill McBride, Calculated Risk:

“I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble.”

“So prices may be a little overvalued, but there is little speculation and I don’t expect house prices to decline nationally like during the bust.”

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices:

“Housing is not repeating the bubble period of 2000-2006.”

“…price increases vary unlike the earlier period when rising prices were almost universal; the number of homes sold annually is 20% less today than in the earlier period and the months’ supply is declining, not surging.”

Bing Bai & Edward Golding, Urban Institute:

“We are not in a bubble and nowhere near the situation preceding the 2008 housing crisis.”

“Despite recent increases, house prices remain affordable by historical standards, suggesting that home prices are tracking a broader economic expansion.”


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5 Reasons Homeownership Makes ‘Cents’

The American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. Recent reports show that the US homeownership rate has rebounded from recent lows and is headed in the right direction. The personal reasons to own differ for each buyer, but there are many basic similarities.

Today we want to talk about the top 5 financial reasons you should own your own home.

  1. Homeownership is a form of forced savings – Paying your mortgage each month allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life for renovations, to pay off high-interest credit card debt, or even send a child to college. As a renter, you guarantee that your landlord is the person with that equity.
  2. Homeownership provides tax savings – One way to save on taxes is to own your own home. You may be able to deduct your mortgage interest, property taxes, and profits from selling your home, but make sure to always check with your accountant first to find out which tax advantages apply to you in your area.
  3. Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost – When you purchase your home with a fixed-rate mortgage, you lock in your monthly housing cost for the next 5, 15, or 30 years. Interest rates have remained around 4% all year, marking some of the lowest rates in history. The value of your home will continue to rise with inflation, but your monthly costs will not.
  4. Buying a home is cheaper than renting – According to the latest report from Trulia, it is now 37.4% less expensive to buy a home of your own than to rent in the US. That number varies throughout the country but ranges from 6% cheaper in San Jose, CA to 57% cheaper in Detroit, MI.
  5. No other investment lets you live inside of it – You can choose to invest your money in gold or the stock market, but you will still need somewhere to live. In a home that you own, you can wake up every morning knowing that your investment is gaining value while providing you a safe place to live.

Bottom Line

Before you sign another lease, perhaps you should sit with a real estate professional in your area to better understand all your options.


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Multigenerational Households May Be the Answer to Price Increases

Multigenerational homes are coming back in a big way! In the 1950s, about 21%, or 32.2 million Americans shared a roof with their grown children or parents. According to an article by Realtor.com,Nearly 1 in 5 Americans is now living in a multigenerational household – a household with two or more adult generations, or grandparents living with grandchildren – a level that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. since 1950.”

Another report that proves this point is the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers which states that 13% of home buyers purchased multigenerational homes last year. The top 3 reasons for purchasing this type of home were:

  1. To take care of aging parents (22%, up from 19% last year)
  2. Cost savings (17%)
  3. Children over the age of 18 moving back home (16%, up from 14% last year)

Valerie Sheets, Spokesperson for Lennar, points out that,

“Everyone is looking for the perfect home for any number of family situations, such as families who opt to take care of aging parents or grandparents at home, or millennials looking to live with their parents while they attend school or save for a down payment.”

For a long time, nuclear families (a couple and their dependent children) became the accepted norm, but John Graham, co-author of “Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living,” says, “We’re getting back to the way human beings have always lived in – extended families.”

This shift can be attributed to several social changes over the decades. Growing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. population helps explain some of the rise in multigenerational living; “Data suggest that multigenerational living is more prevalent among Asian (28%), Hispanic (25%), and African-American (25%) families, while U.S. whites have fewer multigenerational homes (15%).”

Additionally, women are a bit more likely to live in multigenerational conditions than are their male counterparts (12% vs. 10%, respectively). Last but not least, basic economics.

Valerie Sheets brings to light the fact that home prices have been skyrocketing in recent years. She says that, “As home prices increase, more families tend to opt for living together.”

Bottom Line 

Multigenerational households are making a comeback. While it is a shift from the more common nuclear home, these households might be the answer that many families are looking for as home prices continue to rise in response to a lack of housing inventory.


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Low Inventory Causes Home Prices to Maintain Fast Growth

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest Quarterly Metro Home Price Report last week. The report revealed that severely lacking inventory across the country drained sales growth and kept home prices rising at a steady clip in nearly all metro areas. Home prices rose 5.3% over the last quarter across all metros.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, discussed the impact of low inventory on buyers in the report:

“Unfortunately, the pace of new listings were unable to replace what was quickly sold. Home shoppers had little to choose from, and many had to outbid others in order to close on a home. The end result was a slowdown in sales from earlier in the year, steadfast price growth and weakening affordability conditions.”

What this means to sellers

Rising prices are a homeowner’s best friend. As reported by the Washington Post in a recent article post:

“The rise in median sales prices has made current homeowners much more willing to sell their home, and that willingness is one of the main drivers behind the inventory that does make it on to the market. While it hasn’t been enough to meet demand, it has made the situation much better, compared with even three or four years ago.”

What this means to buyers

In a market where prices are rising, buyers should take into account the cost of waiting. Obviously, they will pay more for the same house later this year or next year. However, as Construction Dive reported, the amount of cash needed to purchase that home will also increase.

“These factors have created a situation where the market keeps moving the goalposts in terms of the down payment necessary for first-time homebuyers to get into a home.”

Bottom Line 

If you’re thinking of selling and moving down, waiting might make sense. If you are a first-time buyer or a seller thinking of moving up, waiting probably doesn’t make sense.


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Why Sell Now Instead of Later? The Buyers are Out Now

Each year, most homeowners wait until the spring to sell their houses because they believe that they can get a better deal during the normal spring buyer’s market. However, recently released data suggests that a seller’s best deal may be available right now. The concept of ‘supply & demand’ reveals that the best price for an item will be realized when the supply of that item is low and the demand for that item is high. Let’s see how this applies to the current residential real estate market.

SUPPLY

It is no secret that the supply of homes for sale has been far below the number needed for over a year. A normal market requires six months of housing inventory to meet the demand. The latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there is currently only a 4.2-month supply.

Supply is currently very low!!

DEMAND

A report that was just released tells us that demand is very strong. The most recent Foot Traffic Report (which sheds light on the number of buyers out looking at homes) disclosed that there are more buyers right now than at any other time in the last twelve months. This includes more buyers looking at homes right now than at any time during last year’s spring market.

Demand is currently very high!! 

Bottom Line

Waiting until the spring to list your house for sale made sense in the past. This year is different. The best deal is probably available right now.


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Thinking About Buying? Know Your Credit Score

Knowing your credit score or getting a recent copy of your credit report is one of the first steps that you can take toward knowing how ready you are to start the home buying process.

Make sure all the information listed on your report is accurate and work to correct any mistakes. The higher your credit score, the more likely you will be to receive a better interest rate for your mortgage, which will translate into more ‘home for your money.’

Many potential buyers believe that they need a 750 FICO® Score or higher to be able to purchase a home. The truth is that according to Ellie Mae’s Origination Report, over 53% of loans were approved with a FICO® score under 750 last month!

Here are some tips for improving your credit score:

  • Make payments, including rent, credit cards, and car loans, on time.
  • Keep your spending to no more than 30% of your limit on credit cards.
  • Pay down high-balance credit cards to lower balances, and consider balance transfers to free up credit.
  • Check for errors on your credit report and work toward fixing them.
  • Shop for mortgage rates within a 30-day period — too many spread-out inquiries can lower your score.
  • Work with a credit counselor or a lender to improve your score.

Once you know your score, your next step will be finding a lender and getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Doing this will ensure that you know your budget before you start looking for your dream home.


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Don’t Let Fear Stop You from Applying for a Mortgage

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

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

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need to have saved for a down payment (73% of all buyers made a down payment of less than 20%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income and good credit history.

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

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

  1. Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO® Score of all closed loans in September was 724, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional – your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer that can help you develop a spending plan, as well as determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender – he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval – a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change), and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying!

Bottom Line

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


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Renting or Buying…Either Way, You’re Paying Someone’s Mortgage

There are some people who have not purchased homes yet 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 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.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

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 with 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 3.94% 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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How to Save on a Mortgage Payment Whether Buying or Selling

In Trulia’s recent reportRent vs. Buy: Roommate Edition, they examined the impact that renting with a roommate has in determining whether it is more expensive to rent or buy. The study explains:

“Since we started keeping track in 2012, it’s been a better deal to buy than rent in America’s largest housing markets – and for much of that time it hasn’t been close.”

It then goes on to ask the question:

“But does the equation change for renters who share their rent with a roommate?”

The report reveals:

“While the standard rent vs. buy analysis reveals buying is cheaper than renting in all of the nation’s 100 largest metros, this doesn’t hold true for those choosing between renting with a roommate and buying a starter home.”

It seems obvious that sharing the cost of renting your living space by taking in a roommate dramatically decreases your housing expense (which is exactly what the report concluded), but it got us thinking.

What if you purchased a home and took in that same roommate?

The savings you would gain by adding a roommate would also occur if you purchased a home. This presents an opportunity for a list of possible purchasers. Here are two examples:

  1. The first-time buyer: As the report explains, many young adults already live with a roommate. If they purchased a new home, perhaps that roommate (or someone else) would be willing to rent a room in their new house. The rent could help offset the mortgage payment.
  2. The empty-nester seller looking to move: Their home may no longer fit their current lifestyle. They may now be looking for something a little smaller with all the bedrooms on the ground level. These families may be able to open a bedroom to an older family member (parents, aunts & uncles, etc.). This would kill two birds with one stone.

A smaller, move-down home is almost impossible to find in the current housing market. If the seller-turned-buyer takes on a tenant, they could buy a more expensive home knowing that the additional monies needed to pay the mortgage would be offset with the additional monies they receive in rent. Secondly, the older couple (ex. parents) could get a housing option that probably far surpasses anything else available to them in the current market.

Bottom Line

Considering the concept of renting a portion of your house to be able to purchase the perfect home may make sense to many families. You will need to decide if it is right for you.


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The #1 Reason to List Your House, NOW!

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of their latest Existing Home Sales Report which revealed that sales rose 0.7% month-over-month, but remain 1.5% lower than they were a year ago. Some may look at these numbers and think that now is not a good time to sell their house, but in fact, the opposite is true.

The national slowdown in sales is directly tied to a lack of inventory available for the buyers who are out in the market looking for their dream homes! The inventory of homes for sale has fallen year-over-year for the last 28 months and has had an upward impact on home prices.

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

“Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country.

Realtors® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings – especially at the lower end of the market – and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.” (emphasis added)

The houses that are on the market are selling fast, too! According to NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index, the median number of days it took for a house to go from listed to under contract over the past three months was 34.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is debating listing your house for sale this year, the time is now! Meet with a local real estate professional who can guide you through the process and discuss the specifics of your market!


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Millennials Flock Towards Low Down Payment Programs

report released by Down Payment Resource shows that 61% of first-time homebuyers purchased their homes with a down payment of 6% or less.

The trend continued among all buyers with a mortgage, as 73% made a down payment of less than 20%.

An article by Chase points to a new wave of millennial homebuyers:

“We teamed up with Google to help us better understand what customers are searching for and how the home buying landscape is evolving. We found that millennials and first-time homebuyers are making a big splash in the market, and affordability remains top of mind.”

Among millennials who purchased homes, David Norris, Loan Depot’s Head of Retail Lending, said:

“It’s clear from the survey results that Millennials have a lot of anxiety built up about the home buying process.

There is good news, however, as there’s more flexibility than most Millennials think regarding how to qualify for a loan and what’s needed for a down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many millennials who is debating a home purchase this year, contact a local professional who can help you understand your options and set you on the path to preapproval.


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5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling!

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite an adventurous journey. This is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

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 & 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. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

There are over 180 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 make sure that 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 buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, 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 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 the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

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. Why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?


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Hiring an Agent to Sell Your House May Cost You NOTHING!

There is no doubt that it is easier to sell your house when using the services of a local real estate professional. The agent will provide:

  • Greater exposure to more buyers
  • The skills of a professional negotiator
  • A layer of protection from possible legal liabilities
  • Professional guidance in navigating any pitfalls that may arise
  • A level of safety while showing the home

There is no doubt that these services are valuable to any family that decides to sell. The only question is – how valuable? One of the main reasons For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) don’t use a real estate agent is because they believe these services are not worth the fee an agent charges. But, what if those services didn’t cost the seller a penny?

A study by Collateral Analytics, however, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything and, in some cases, may be costing themselves more by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)

Why would FSBOs net less money on their own than if they used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids on with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
  • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale” which could bring more money for the home.
  • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.” If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Three conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%.
  3. The sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, FSBOing may end up costing you money instead of saving you money.


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Moving-Up to 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! We recently shared data from Trulia’s Market Mismatch Study 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 those searching to purchase these properties in many areas of the country. This means that homes are often staying on the market longer which can eventually lead to a price change.

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 your house their new home.

The sale of your starter or trade-up house will aid in coming 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.

In a Washington Post article, Daryl Judy, an associate broker with Washington Fine Properties, gave some insight into what many millennials are choosing to do:

“Some high-earning millennials save money until they are in their early 30s to buy a place and just skip over that starter-home phase. They’ll stay in an apartment until they can afford to pay for the place they want.”

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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Buying Remains Cheaper Than Renting in 39 States!

In the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!

A study by GoBankingRates looked at the cost of renting vs. owning a home at the state level and concluded that in 39 states, it is actually ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ cheaper to own (represented by the two shades of blue in the map below).

Buying Remains Cheaper Than Renting in 39 States! | Keeping Current Matters

One of the main reasons owning a home has remained significantly cheaper than renting is the fact that interest rates have remained at or near historic lows. Freddie Mac reports that the current interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.91%.

Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 128% increase over today’s average of 4.0%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find your dream home.


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