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2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers

Freddie Mac recently released a report entitled, “Perceptions of Down Payment Consumer Research.” Their research revealed that,

“For many prospective homebuyers, saving for a down payment is the largest barrier to achieving the goal of homeownership. Part of the challenge for those planning to purchase a home is their perception of how much they will need to save for the down payment…

…Based on our recent survey of individuals planning to purchase a home in the next three years, nearly a third think they need to put more than 20% down.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers often overestimate the funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the same report:

22% of renters and 31% of homeowners believe lenders require 20% or more of a home’s sale price as a down payment for a typical mortgage today. And,

“If a 20% down payment was required, 70% of those who were planning to buy a home in the next three years said it would delay them from purchasing and nearly 30% indicated they would never be able to afford a home.”  

While many believe at least 20% down is necessary to buy the home of their dreams, they do not realize programs are available which permit as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined!

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”

Many either don’t know or are misinformed concerning the FICO® score necessary to qualify, believing a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Keeping Current MattersAs indicated in the chart above, 52.4% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.

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

Some Highlights:

  • The “cost of waiting to buy” is defined as the additional funds necessary to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac forecasts interest rates to rise to 4.5% by the Q4 2020.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 4.8% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!

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The Feeling You Get from Owning Your Home

We often talk about the financial reasons why buying a home makes sense. But, more often than not, the emotional reasons are the more powerful and compelling ones.

No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, that feeling of safety and security you gain from owning your own home is simultaneously one of the greatest and most difficult to describe.

Frederick Peters, a contributor for Forbes, recently wrote about that feeling, and the pride that comes from owning your own home.

“As homeowners discover, living in an owned home feels different from living in a rented home. It’s not just that an owner can personalize the space; it touches a chord even more fundamental than that.

Homeownership enhances the longing for self-determination at the heart of the American Dream. First-time homeowners, young or old, radiate not only pride but also a sense of arrival, a sense of being where they belong. It cannot be duplicated by owning a 99-year lease.”

Bottom Line

Owning a home brings a sense of accomplishment and confidence that cannot be achieved through renting. If you are debating renewing your lease, meet with a local real estate professional first. They can help answer any questions you have about what your next steps should be and what is required in today’s market!

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How Homeownership Delivers Unsurpassed Family Wealth

There are many financial benefits to homeownership, but probably none more important than its ability to create family wealth.

How Housing Matters is a joint project of the Urban Land Institute and the MacArthur Foundation. It is an online resource for research and information on how homeownership contributes to individual and community success.

Their article, The First Rung on the Ladder to Economic Opportunity Is Housing, explains the importance of homeownership to a family’s financial health. In that article, they simply stated:

“The ladder to economic success can stretch only so high without the asset-building power of homeownership.”

To this point, National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Economists’ Outlook Blog revealed in a recent post:

“Housing wealth contributes positively to the homeowner’s and children’s economic condition, because home equity can be tapped for expenditures such as investing in another property (which can generate rental income), home renovation (which further increases the home value), a child’s college education, emergency or major life events, or expenses in retirement…

Housing wealth (or net worth or equity) is built up over time via the home price appreciation and the principal payments that the homeowner makes on the loan.”

Here is a graph showing the build-up of wealth over time:How Homeownership Delivers Unsurpassed Family Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

Just last month, NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, explained that even though home appreciation has slowed, homeowners are still building wealth:

“Homeowners in the majority of markets are continuing to enjoy price gains, albeit at a slower rate of growth. A typical homeowner accumulated $9,500 in wealth over the past year.”

Later in life, this wealth is crucial…

This wealth is important to a family’s retirement plans. In a recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University titled, Housing America’s Older Adults 2018, they revealed that a renter 65 years old or older has a net worth of $6,710. Meanwhile, a homeowner 65+ years old has a net worth of $319,200. That huge difference will allow for a dramatic upgrade in one’s lifestyle during your retirement years.

Bottom Line

Homeownership builds wealth. This, in turn, allows families to have more and better options when it comes to their children and their life in retirement.

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4 Reasons to Buy A Home This Summer

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

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest U.S. Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 3.7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.8% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate. Waiting may 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 fixed rate mortgage have started to level off around 4.3%. 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 rates will increase 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examine 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, greater safety for your family, or you just want to have control over renovations, now could be the time to buy.

Bottom Line

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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The Top Reasons to Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

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

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The Ultimate Truth about Housing Affordability

There have been many headlines decrying an “affordability crisis” in the residential real estate market. While it is true that buying a home is less affordable than it had been over the last ten years, we need to understand why and what that means.

On a monthly basis, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), produces a Housing Affordability Index. According to NAR, the index…

“…measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent price and income data.”

Their methodology states:

“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”

So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here is a graph of the index going back to 1990:

The Ultimate Truth about Housing Affordability | Keeping Current Matters

It is true that the index is lower today than any year from 2009 to 2017. However, we must realize the main reason homes were more affordable. That period of time immediately followed a housing crash and there were large numbers of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). Those properties were sold at large discounts.

Today, the index is higher than any year from 1990 to 2008. Based on historic home affordability data, that means homes are more affordable right now than any other time besides the time following the housing crisis.

With mortgage rates remaining low and wages finally increasing, we can see that it is MORE AFFORDABLE to purchase a home today than it was last year!

Bottom Line

With wages increasing, price appreciation moderating, and mortgage rates remaining near all-time lows, purchasing a home is a great move based on historic affordability numbers.


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Multigenerational Homes Are on the Rise

As loved ones start to get older, we start to wonder: how long will they be able to live alone?  Will they need someone there to help them with daily life? There’s a reason to ask those questions now more than ever, as the average age in the U.S. is 78 years old!  As a result, 41% of Americans in the market are searching for a home that can accommodate a multigenerational family.

The graph below shows the number of people by generation that purchased a multigenerational home because they will either be taking care of an aging parent or they just want to spend time together.Multigenerational Homes Are on the Rise | Keeping Current Matters

Of those buyers, 26% indicated they will be taking care of an aging parent, and 14% said they want to spend time with an aging parent. These numbers do not come as a surprise. According to Pew Research Center, 64 million Americans (20% of the population) lived in a multigenerational household in 2016 (Last numbers available).Multigenerational Homes Are on the Rise | Keeping Current MattersAn increasing number of studies affirm the benefits of being part of a multigenerational household. These benefits aren’t just for the grandchildren, but for the grandparents as well. According to these two resources:

The University of Oxford

“Children who are close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems and are better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school”.

Boston College

“Researchers found that emotionally close ties between grandparents and adult grandchildren reduced depressive symptoms in both groups”.

This research gives helpful insight into why 41% of Americans are in the market to buy a multigenerational home.

Bottom Line

If you have a home that could accommodate a multigenerational family and are thinking about selling, now is the perfect time to put it on the market! The number of buyers looking for this type of home will only continue to increase.


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2 Things You Need to Know to Properly Price Your Home

In today’s housing market, home prices are increasing at a slower pace (3.7%) than they have over the last eight years (6-7%). However, they are still are above historical norms. Low supply of listed homes and high demand from buyers has pushed prices to rise rapidly.

In the mind of the homeowner, annual home price appreciation over 6% has become the new normal. This becomes a challenge when a homeowner looks to refinance or sell their home, as the expectation of what the homeowner believes the home should be worth does not always line up with the bank’s appraisal.

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

Over the last five months, the gap between the homeowner’s opinion and the bank’s appraisal has widened to -0.78%. This is important for homeowners to note, as even a 0.78% difference in appraisal can mean thousands of dollars that a buyer or seller would have to come up with at closing (depending on the price of the home).

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

2 Things You Need to Know to Properly Price Your Home | Keeping Current Matters

While the appraisal gap widens, another trend is also becoming more common.

According to realtor.com, “the share of homes which had their prices cut increased by 2% compared to last year”. Thirty-seven out of the 50 largest US housing markets saw an increase in overall price reductions.

In today’s market, you need an expert agent who can help price your house right from the start. Homeowners who make the mistake of overpricing their homes will eventually have to drop the price. This leaves buyers wondering if the price drop was caused by something wrong with the house. In reality, nothing is wrong- the price was just too high!

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your house in today’s market, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you set your listing price properly from the start!


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The Impact Staging Your Home Has On Your Sale Price [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Impact Staging Your Home Has On Your Sale Price [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of Realtors surveyed their members & released the findings of their Profile of Home Staging.
  • 62% of seller’s agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market.
  • 50% of staged homes saw a 1-10% increase in dollar-value offers from buyers.
  • 77% of buyer’s agents said staging made it easier for buyers to visualize the home as their own.
  • The top rooms to stage in order to attract more buyers are the living room, master bedroom, kitchen, and dining room.

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4 Most Popular Bottom Line Investments in America

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

For the sixth year in a row, real estate has come out on top as the best long-term investment! That has not always been the case. Gallup explains:

“Between 2008 and 2010, covering most of the Great Recession period that saw plummeting home and stock values, Americans were as likely to name savings accounts or CDs as the best long-term investment as they were to name stocks or real estate.”

This year’s results showed that 35% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 27%. The full results are shown in the chart below.

4 Most Popular Bottom Line Investments in America | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

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

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Boomerang Buyers: Don’t Be Afraid to Buy a Home Again!

According to CoreLogic, from 2006 to 2014 “there were 7.3 million housing foreclosures and 1.9 million short sales.” The hesitation some Americans feel after experiencing a foreclosure brings to mind the old saying: “Fool me once- shame on you. Fool me twice- shame on me.

According to the 2019 Home Buyer Report from NerdWallet,

Thirteen percent of Americans have lost a home due to a financial event such as foreclosure in the past 10 years. More than 6 in 10 of them (61%) have not bought a home since, and 20% of those who haven’t repurchased say they never plan to again.”

This makes sense. They don’t want to go through the same pain again. As a cornerstone of the American dream, nobody wants to lose homeownership. But let’s illustrate this simply: Recall learning to ride your first bike during your childhood. Did you stop riding it because you fell on the ground and scraped your knees? Or did you get back on and try again until you were able to ride without falling?

Purchasing a home is not as simple as learning to ride a bike, but the concept is the same! There are many things necessary to learn that affect the ability to get the financing needed to purchase a home. Past occurrences can determine if there is a waiting period. In other words, you need to let your knees heal before you try again!

As we’ve mentioned in the past, homeownership has many financial and non-financial benefits. Each person needs to go over the pros and cons, taking the time to figure out what is best for their family. Should they continue renting, or should they try to buy again?

The good news is that some “boomerang buyers” are getting back into the market. They’re getting back on their bike!

“Of 2.8 million former homeowners whose foreclosures, short sales or bankruptcies dropped off their credit reports from January 2016 to November 2018, 11.5% have obtained a new mortgage, according to a study by credit rating agency Experian for USA Today.”

NerdWallet’s report also mentioned:

  • 6% plan to buy a house this year.
  • 39% intend to buy over the next 3 years.
  • 58% say they will purchase within 5 years.

Bottom Line

If you lost a home due to a financial event but would like to review your options, contact a local real estate professional that can help you create a plan to obtain a home in the future!


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Starting the Search for Your Dream Home? Here Are 5 Tips!

In today’s real estate market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.

In a realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In

Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.

An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.

Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.


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Top Days to List Your Home for Sale [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • ATTOM Data Solutions conducted an analysis of more than 29 million single family home and condo sales over the past eight years to determine the top days to list your home for sale.
  • The top five days to list your home brought in a 10% premium over market value and are all in either May or June!
  • “Families start their home search when they know their kids will be out of school and when the weather is ideal for home viewing and moving, giving home sellers an upper hand in price negotiations.”
  • There is still time to list your home before these dates pass you by!

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What is Really Happening with Home Prices?

Home values have softened over the last twelve months. We are no longer seeing 6-7% annual appreciation levels for the national housing market. The current numbers are closer to 4%. Some have suggested that year-over-year appreciation levels could fall to 3% or less this year.

However, a stronger-than-expected economy and a good spring housing market have changed some opinions. Some analysts are now predicting that home value appreciation may begin to increase as we move forward.

Here are three examples:

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American

“Data on the movement of unadjusted house prices during the early spring home-buying season won’t be available for a few more months, but it’s quite likely that price appreciation will accelerate again.”

CoreLogic’s April “Home Price Insights

“Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased year over year by 3.7% in March 2019 compared with March 2018…The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 4.8% on a year-over-year basis from March 2019 to March 2020.”

Pulsenomics’ Quarterly “Home Price Expectation Survey”

  • The 2018 4th Quarter survey called for 3.8% appreciation for 2019.
  • The 2019 1st Quarter survey raised the appreciation projection for this year to 4.3%.

Bottom Line

Price appreciation has slowed over the past year. However, a strong economy and a good housing market have many experts thinking that home values might re-accelerate moderately throughout the rest of this year.


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4 Tips for Making a Competitive Offer

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

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

1. Determine Your Price

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

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

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

2. Submit an Offer

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

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

3. Negotiate the Offer

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

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

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

4. Act Fast

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

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

Bottom Line

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


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New Research Shows Housing Is Affordable For First-Time Buyers

Home prices have been on the rise for the last seven years, leading many housing market analysts to conclude that first-time homebuyers are being shut out of the market due to affordability concerns.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports on the percentage of First-Time Home Buyers (FTHB) on a monthly and yearly basis. Their latest report shows that FTHB’s made up 33% of buyers in March, which matches their reported share in 2018.

NAR uses survey data from their members to come up with this statistic, so their results do not include every transaction completed. Rather, they only the transactions reported by members who complete the survey.

The other entity that reports on FTHB share is the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The AEI uses data from mortgage applications that define an FTHB as “any borrower who did not have a mortgage for the preceding three years.”

This means the AEI measurement also includes former homeowners who transitioned out of a home they previously owned and re-entered the market after at least 3 years. The latest FTHB share data from AEI shows that first-time buyers made up 57.5% of all mortgages in August 2018. NAR’s data shows a 31% share for the same time period.

New research from the New York Federal Reserve shows that these traditional reports on FTHB share have been unable to give an accurate depiction of this group’s involvement in the market.

The NY Fed was able to take consumer credit data and identify when a mortgage payment entered a consumer’s credit report to determine when a first-time home purchase was made. Using this data, they were able to show that AEI’s reported FTHB share was consistently 10% higher. The NAR reports were right on par with their findings until 2010, when NAR’s share dropped to the 11% gap seen today.

So, what does this all mean?

First-time home buyers have not disappeared from the market as many analysts had believed. Buying a home is very much a part of the American Dream for younger generations, just like it had been for their parents and grandparents.

This also means that rising prices have not scared buyers away from the market. Many first-time buyers are making sacrifices to save their down payment and make their dream a reality.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters who is scrolling through listings on your phone every night dreaming of buying your own home, there are opportunities in every market to make that dream a reality!


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A Lack of Inventory Continues to Impact the Housing Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest point in years. The market will continue to strengthen in 2019.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory! Buyer demand naturally increases during the summer months, but supply has not kept up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at National Association of Realtors

“Further increases in inventory are highly desirable to keep home prices in check, the sustained steady gains in home sales can occur when home price appreciation grows at roughly the same pace as wage growth.”

Jessica Lautz, Vice President of NAR

“There’s a supply-demand mismatch… More inventory is needed at the lower end and a price reduction may be needed at the upper end.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist of Realtor.com

“Heading into spring, U.S. prices are expected to continue to rise and inventory is expected to continue to increase, but at a slower pace than we’ve seen the last few months as fewer sellers want to contend with this year’s more challenging conditions… A buyer’s experience will vary notably depending on the market and price point they’re targeting.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time! Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price!


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A Tale of Two Markets [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • An emerging trend for some time now has been the difference between available inventory and demand in the premium and luxury markets and that in the starter and trade-up markets and what those differences are doing to prices!
  • Inventory continues to rise in the luxury and premium home markets which is causing prices to cool.
  • Demand continues to rise with lower-than-normal inventory levels in the starter and trade-up home markets, causing prices to rise on a year-over-year basis for 85 consecutive months.

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Mainstream Concerns about an Economic Slowdown Revisited

Recently, we reported that many believe a recession could happen within the next two years. We explained that 70% of economists and market analysts surveyed last year believe that a recession will occur in 2019 or 2020 and that 42% of consumers currently looking to purchase a home also agree that a recession will occur this year or next.

However, the U.S. economy has performed well in the first quarter of 2019 and that has caused some experts to change their thinking on an impending economic slowdown.

Here are a few notable examples:

Anthony Chan, Chief Economist at JPMorgan Chase

“I feel really comfortable that the economy is slowing down this year, but not going into a recession… It doesn’t look, to me, like the odds of a recession in 2020 are there.”

Dean Baker, Senior Economist at the Center for Economic & Policy Research

 “To sum up the general picture, the U.S. economy is definitely weakening… However, with wages growing at a respectable pace, and job growth remaining healthy, we should see enough consumption demand to keep the economy moving forward. That means slower growth, but no recession.”

Lisa Shalett, Chief Investment Officer, Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley

“I’m not convinced a recession is coming soon… I see an improving housing market (low rates help), a rebound in bank lending, a tight labor market, higher oil prices and well-behaved credit markets. All these point to a stable U.S. economic outlook.”

Bottom Line

We are seeing a stronger economy than many had predicted. That has caused some experts to push off the possibility of a recession further into the horizon.


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The Benefits of a 20% Down Payment

If you are in the market to buy a home this year, you may be confused about how much money you need to come up with for your down payment. Many people you talk to will tell you that you need to save 20% or you won’t be able to secure a mortgage.

The truth is that there are many programs available that let you put down as little as 3%. Those who have served our country could qualify for a Veterans Affairs Home Loan (VA) without needing a down payment.

These programs have cut the savings time that many families would need to compile a large down payment from five or more years down to a year or two. This allows them to start building family wealth sooner.

So then, why do so many people believe that they need a 20% down payment to buy a home? There has to be a reason! Today, we want to talk about four reasons why putting 20% down is a good plan, if you can afford it.

1. Your interest rate will be lower.

Putting down a 20% down payment vs. a 3-5% down payment shows your lender/bank that you are more financially stable, thus a good credit risk. The more confident your bank is in your credit score and your ability to pay your loan, the lower the rate they will be willing to give you.

2. You’ll end up paying less for your home.

The bigger your down payment, the lower your loan amount will be for your mortgage. If you are able to pay 20% of the cost of your new home at the start of the transaction, you will only pay interest on the remaining 80%. If you put down a 5% down payment, the extra 15% on your loan will accrue interest and end up costing you more in the long run!

3. Your offer will stand out in a competitive market!

In a market where many buyers are competing for the same home, sellers like to see offers come in with 20% or larger down payments. The seller gains the same confidence that the bank did above. You are seen as a stronger buyer whose financing is more likely to be approved. Therefore, the deal will be more likely to go through!

4. You won’t have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

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

As we mentioned earlier, when you put down less than 20% to buy a home, your lender/bank will see your loan as having more risk. PMI helps them recover their investment in you if you are unable to pay your loan. This insurance is not required if you are able to put down 20% or more.

Many times, home sellers looking to move up to a larger or more expensive home are able to take the equity they earn from the sale of their house to put down 20% on their next home.

If you are looking to buy your first home, you will have to weigh the benefits of saving a 20% down payment vs. the time and cost of continuing to rent while you save that amount.

Bottom Line

If your plan for your future includes buying a home and you’re already saving for your down payment, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you decide the down payment size that best fits with your long-term plan!


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Home Buyers are Optimistic About Homeownership!

When we consider buying an item, we naturally go through a research process prior to making our decision. We ask our friends and family members who have made similar purchases about their experience, we get opinions and insights, and we read reviews online. There’s no difference when considering a home purchase!

Most homebuyers start by listening to the news to hear what is being said about the real estate market. They check with family and friends about their experience. They spend time online reading reviews about their desired neighborhood.

The challenge is that comments from the news and those closest to us can contradict the data and reports. One source says one thing, while another source says something completely different.

There is a group of homebuyers that are not allowing comments about an upcoming recession to interfere with their decision to buy a home. According to a survey by realtor.com®,

Nearly 70 percent of home shoppers this spring think the U.S. will enter a recession in the next three years, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying to close on a home…Despite the fact that they foresee an economic downturn, they generally expressed confidence that a future recession will be better than 2008 for the housing market.”

The report provides more insights from the survey:

  • Nearly 30% of the active home shoppers* surveyed expect the next recession to begin sometime in 2020.
  • 56% of shoppers believe home prices have hit their peak.
  • 41% believe housing will fare better than 2008.
  • 45% of home shoppers feel at least slightly more optimistic about homeownership.
  • 33% reported no impact on their feelings about homeownership.

Homebuyers are aware and making decisions with their eyes wide-open. As the report mentioned,

“The fact that some [36%] home shoppers expect the next recession to be harder on the housing market than the last recession suggests that they are buying homes with eyes wide-open and very sober, if not slightly pessimistic, views of the housing market.

This is a stark contrast to the years leading up to the last recession when ‘irrational exuberance’ was more common and yet another reason to expect that the next downturn will be very different for the housing market than the last.”

Bottom Line

If you are considering buying a home, sit down with a local real estate professional that can help you understand your local market and determine if buying a home is the right choice for you now.

*Active home shoppers are those consumers who responded that they plan to purchase their next home in 1 year or less.


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Why Access Is One of the Most Important Factors in Getting Your House Sold!

So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you through the entire process, and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to your 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 2 pm 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.

With more competition coming to the market this spring, 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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The Cost of Renting vs. Buying This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a tough decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (27.7%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (17.5%), the choice becomes obvious.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!

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2 Trends Helping Keep Housing Affordable

Two positive trends have started to emerge that impact the 2019 Spring Housing Market. Mortgage interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate loan have dropped to new lows, right as reports show that wages have increased at their highest rate in decades!

These two factors have helped keep housing affordable despite low supply of houses for sale driving up prices. First American’s Chief Economist, Mark Fleming, explains the impact,

“Ongoing supply shortages remain the main driver of the performance gap as the housing market continues to face an inventory impasse – you can’t buy what’s not for sale.

 However, an unexpected affordability surge, driven primarily by lower-than-anticipated mortgage rates, rising wages and favorable demographics, has boosted housing demand.”

Mortgage interest rates had been on the rise for most of 2018 before reaching their peak in November at 4.94%. According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates last week came in at 4.20%.

Average hourly earnings grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in March, up substantially from the 2.3% average pace seen over the last 10 years.

These two factors contributed nearly $6,000 worth of additional house-buying power for median households from February to March 2019, according to First American’s research. Fleming is positive about the prolonged impact of lower rates and higher wages.

“We expect rising wages and lower mortgage rates to continue through the spring, boosting housing demand and spurring home sales.”

Bottom Line

Low mortgage interest rates have kept housing affordable throughout the country. If you plan on purchasing a home this year, act now while rates are still low!


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