The travel industry is one of the major sectors that’s been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, it’s hard to know how long it will take for summer travelers to be back in action and for the industry to fully recover. Homeowners who rent their secondary properties on their own or through programs like Airbnb, which has over 660,000 listings in the U.S. alone, have been impacted in this challenging time. Some of these homeowners are considering selling their vacation homes, and understandably so.
A recent CNN article indicated:
“With global travel screeching to a halt during the pandemic, a number of Airbnb hosts are planning to sell their properties…These desperate moves come as hosts face the possibility of losing thousands of dollars a month in canceled bookings while bills, maintenance costs, and mortgage payments pile up.”
If you’re one of the property owners in this position, you too may be feeling the pain of decreased travel, especially as we prepare for the typical busy summer vacation season. A recent survey notes that 48% of Americans have already canceled summer travel plans due to the current health crisis. In addition, 36% indicated they don’t have vacation plans, and only 16% said they did not cancel their summer travel.
The same survey also asked, “How long will you wait before traveling again?” Not surprisingly, only 29% of respondents are planning to travel within the next 6 months. That means 71% are putting their plans on hold for at least 6 months, or are still unsure about future travel. That can continue to add to the significant income loss that many property renters felt this spring.
If you’re considering selling your rental property, know that there are two key factors indicating that selling your vacation home now may be your best move as a homeowner.
1. Inventory Shortage: The inventory of overall homes for sale is well below the demand from potential buyers, so many eyes may be searching for a home like yours. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total housing inventory, meaning homes available to purchase, is down 19.7% from one year ago (see graph below):
Inventory across the country continues to be a challenge, with only a 4.1-month supply of listings available at the current sales pace. For a balanced market, where there are enough homes available for interested buyers to purchase, that number would need to bump up to a 6-month supply. This means we don’t have enough inventory for the number of buyers looking for homes, so selling in this scenario is ideal. Buyers are looking now, and some vacation homes make a great primary residence or second home for those eager to escape from more populated urban areas.
2. Home Prices: The lack of inventory is also keeping homes from depreciating in value. Today, prices are holding strong and experts forecast home price appreciation to continue throughout this year. Selling your home while prices are holding steady is a sound business move. You’ll likely have equity you’ve earned working for you as well. If your home has been vacant for the past few months, the forced savings you have built in your equity may help balance out possible rental income loss due to the slowdown in the travel industry.
Bottom Line: We don’t know exactly when heightened summer travel will return or what it will look like when it does. If you’re considering selling your vacation home, let’s connect today to determine your options in the current market.
With stay-at-home orders starting to gradually lift throughout parts of the country, data indicates homebuyers are jumping back into the market. After many families put their plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what we once called the busy spring real estate season is shifting into the summer. In 2020, summer is the new spring for real estate.
Joel Kan, Economist at The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) notes:
“Applications for home purchases continue to recover from April’s sizable drop and have now increased for five consecutive weeks…Government purchase applications, which include FHA, VA, and USDA loans, are now 5 percent higher than a year ago, which is an encouraging turnaround after the weakness seen over the past two months.”
Additionally, according to Google Trends, which scores search terms online, searches for real estate increased from 68 points the week of March 15th to 92 points last week. As we can see, more potential homebuyers are looking for homes virtually.
What’s the Opportunity for Buyers?
Another reason buyers are coming back to the market, even with forced unemployment and stay-at-home orders, is historically low mortgage rates. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac indicates:
“For the fourth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3.30 percent, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic…As states reopen, we’re seeing purchase demand improve remarkably fast, now essentially flat relative to a year ago.”
With mortgage rates at such low levels and states gradually beginning to reopen, there’s more incentive than ever to buy a home this summer.
What’s the Opportunity for Sellers?
Finding a home to buy, however, is still a challenge, as this spring sellers removed many listings from the market. Though more people are now putting their houses up for sale this month as compared to last month, current inventory is still well below last year’s level.
According to last week’s Weekly Economic and Housing Market Update from realtor.com:
“Weekly Housing Inventory showed continued tightening. New Listings declined 28% compared with a year ago, as sellers grappled with uncertainty and hesitated bringing homes to market. Total Listings dropped 20% YoY, a faster rate than in prior weeks, leaving very few homes available for sale. As Time on Market was 15 days slower YoY, asking prices moved up 1.5% YoY.”
If you’re thinking of selling your house this summer, now may be your best opportunity. With so few homes on the market for buyers to purchase, this season may be the time for your house to stand out from the crowd. Trusted real estate professionals can help you list safely and effectively, keeping your family’s needs top of mind. Buyers are looking, and your house may be at the top of their list.
Bottom Line: If you’re thinking of selling, many buyers may be eager to find a home just like yours. Let’s connect today to make sure you can get your house in on the action this summer.
Staying at home doesn’t mean your search for a new place needs to come to a standstill. Check out these tips on how to explore other neighborhoods virtually in the homebuying process. You may find a spot that better suits your needs without ever leaving your living room! Let’s connect today so you have help with all of the additional steps along the way, and you’re ready to make your next move.
With all of the unanswered questions caused by COVID-19 and the economic slowdown we’re experiencing across the country today, many are asking if the housing market is in trouble. For those who remember 2008, it’s logical to ask that question.
Many of us experienced financial hardships, lost homes, and were out of work during the Great Recession – the recession that started with a housing and mortgage crisis. Today, we face a very different challenge: an external health crisis that has caused a pause in much of the economy and a major shutdown of many parts of the country.
Let’s look at five things we know about today’s housing market that were different in 2008.
1. Appreciation: When we look at appreciation in the visual below, there’s a big difference between the 6 years prior to the housing crash and the most recent 6-year period of time. Leading up to the crash, we had much higher appreciation in this country than we see today. In fact, the highest level of appreciation most recently is below the lowest level we saw leading up to the crash. Prices have been rising lately, but not at the rate they were climbing back when we had runaway appreciation.
2. Mortgage Credit: The Mortgage Credit Availability Index is a monthly measure by the Mortgage Bankers Association that gauges the level of difficulty to secure a loan. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a loan; the lower the index, the harder. Today we’re nowhere near the levels seen before the housing crash when it was very easy to get approved for a mortgage. After the crash, however, lending standards tightened and have remained that way leading up to today.
3. Number of Homes for Sale: One of the causes of the housing crash in 2008 was an oversupply of homes for sale. Today, as shown in the next image, we see a much different picture. We don’t have enough homes on the market for the number of people who want to buy them. Across the country, we have less than 6 months of inventory, an undersupply of homes available for interested buyers.
4. Use of Home Equity: The chart below shows the difference in how people are accessing the equity in their homes today as compared to 2008. In 2008, consumers were harvesting equity from their homes (through cash-out refinances) and using it to finance their lifestyles. Today, consumers are treating the equity in their homes much more cautiously.
5. Home Equity Today: Today, 53.8% of homes across the country have at least 50% equity. In 2008, homeowners walked away when they owed more than what their homes were worth. With the equity homeowners have now, they’re much less likely to walk away from their homes.
Bottom Line: The COVID-19 crisis is causing different challenges across the country than the ones we faced in 2008. Back then, we had a housing crisis; today, we face a health crisis. What we know now is that housing is in a much stronger position today than it was in 2008. It is no longer the center of the economic slowdown. Rather, it could be just what helps pull us out of the downturn. Click on this link to view other articles that might be of interest, https://bit.ly/3ckDHyH
Today’s everyday reality is pretty different than it looked just a few weeks ago. We’re learning how to do a lot of things in new ways, from how we work remotely to how we engage with our friends and neighbors. Almost everything right now is shifting to a virtual format. One of the big changes we’re adapting to is the revisions to the common real estate transaction, which all vary by state and locality. Technology, however, is making it possible for many of us to continue on the quest for homeownership, an essential need for all.
Here’s a look at some of the elements of the process that are changing (at least in the near-term), due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing, and what you may need to know about each one if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home sooner rather than later.
1. Virtual Consultations – Instead of heading into an office, you can meet with real estate and lending professionals through video chat. Whether it’s your first initial needs analysis as a buyer or your listing appointment as a seller, you can still get the process started remotely and create a plan together. Your trusted advisor is still on your side.
2. Home Searches & Virtual Showings – According to theNational Association of Realtors (NAR), the Internet is one of the three most popular information sources buyers use when searching for homes. Your real estate agent can send you listing information and help you request a virtual showing when you’re ready to start looking. This means you can virtually walk through the homes on your wish list while keeping your family safe. As a seller, you can still have virtual open houses and virtual tours too, so as not to miss those buyers looking to find a home right now.
3. Document Signing – Although this is another area that varies by state, today more portions of the transaction are being done digitally. In many areas, your agent or loan officer can set up an account where you can upload all of the required documents and sign electronically right from your computer.
4. Sending Money – Whether you need to pay for an appraisal or submit closing costs, there are options available. Depending on the transaction and local regulations, you may be able to pay by credit card, and most banks will also allow you to wire funds from your account. Sometimes you can send a check by mail, and in some states, a mobile escrow agent will pick up a check from your home.
5. Closing Process – Again, depending on your area, a mobile notary may be able to bring the required documents to your home before the closing. If your state requires an attorney to be present, check with your legal counsel to see what options are available. Also, depending on the title company, some are allowing drive-thru closings, which is similar to doing a transaction at a bank window.
Although these virtual processes are starting to become more widely accepted, it does not mean that this is the way things are going to get done from now on. Under the current circumstances, however, technology is making it possible to continue much of the real estate transaction today.
Bottom Line: If you need to move today, technology can help make it happen; there are options available. Let’s touch base today to discuss your situation and our local regulations, so you don’t have to put your real estate plans on hold. Click on this link to view other articles that might be of interest, https://bit.ly/2XlOuUT
With all of the havoc being caused by COVID-19, many are concerned we may see a new wave of foreclosures. Restaurants, airlines, hotels, and many other industries are furloughing workers or dramatically cutting their hours. Without a job, many homeowners are wondering how they’ll be able to afford their mortgage payments.
In spite of this, there are actually many reasons we won’t see a surge in the number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash over ten years ago. Here are just a few of those reasons:
The Government Learned its Lesson the Last Time
During the previous housing crash, the government was slow to recognize the challenges homeowners were having and waited too long to grant relief. Today, action is being taken swiftly. Just this week:
Homeowners Learned their Lesson the Last Time
When the housing market was going strong in the early 2000s, homeowners gained a tremendous amount of equity in their homes. Many began to tap into that equity. Some started to use their homes as ATM machines to purchase luxury items like cars, jet-skis, and lavish vacations. When prices dipped, many found themselves in a negative equity situation (where the mortgage was greater than the value of their homes). Some just walked away, leaving the banks with no other option but to foreclose on their properties.
Today, the home equity situation in America is vastly different. From 2005-2007, homeowners cashed out $824 billion worth of home equity by refinancing. In the last three years, they cashed out only $232 billion, less than one-third of that amount. That has led to:
Even if prices dip (and most experts are not predicting that they will), most homeowners will still have vast amounts of value in their homes and will not walk away from that money.
There Will Be Help Available to Individuals and Small Businesses
The government is aware of the financial pain this virus has caused and will continue to cause. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported:
“In a memorandum, Treasury proposed two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: A first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May. The amounts would depend on income and family size.”
The plan also recommends $300 billion for small businesses.
Bottom Line: These are not going to be easy times. However, the lessons learned from the last crisis have Americans better prepared to weather the financial storm. For those who can’t, help is on the way.
With all of the volatility in the stock market and uncertainty about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), some are concerned we may be headed for another housing crash like the one we experienced from 2006-2008. The feeling is understandable. Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research at the real estate consulting firm Meyers Research, addressed this point in a recent interview:
“With people having PTSD from the last time, they’re still afraid of buying at the wrong time.”
There are many reasons, however, indicating this real estate market is nothing like 2008. Here are five visuals to show the dramatic differences.
1. Mortgage standards are nothing like they were back then. During the housing bubble, it was difficult NOT to get a mortgage. Today, it is tough to qualify. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases a Mortgage Credit Availability Index which is “a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.” The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage. As shown below, during the housing bubble, the index skyrocketed. Currently, the index shows how getting a mortgage is even more difficult than it was before the bubble.
2. Prices are not soaring out of control. Below is a graph showing annual house appreciation over the past six years, compared to the six years leading up to the height of the housing bubble. Though price appreciation has been quite strong recently, it is nowhere near the rise in prices that preceded the crash.
There’s a stark difference between these two periods of time. Normal appreciation is 3.6%, so while current appreciation is higher than the historic norm, it’s certainly not accelerating beyond control as it did in the early 2000s.
3. We don’t have a surplus of homes on the market. We have a shortage. The months’ supply of inventory needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage and will lead to continued appreciation. As the next graph shows, there were too many homes for sale in 2007, and that caused prices to tumble. Today, there’s a shortage of inventory which is causing an acceleration in home values.
4. Houses became too expensive to buy. The affordability formula has three components: the price of the home, the wages earned by the purchaser, and the mortgage rate available at the time. Fourteen years ago, prices were high, wages were low, and mortgage rates were over 6%. Today, prices are still high. Wages, however, have increased and the mortgage rate is about 3.5%. That means the average family pays less of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment than they did back then. Here’s a graph showing that difference:
5. People are equity rich, not tapped out. In the run-up to the housing bubble, homeowners were using their homes as a personal ATM machine. Many immediately withdrew their equity once it built up, and they learned their lesson in the process. Prices have risen nicely over the last few years, leading to over fifty percent of homes in the country having greater than 50% equity. But owners have not been tapping into it like the last time. Here is a table comparing the equity withdrawal over the last three years compared to 2005, 2006, and 2007. Homeowners have cashed out over $500 billion dollars less than before:
During the crash, home values began to fall, and sellers found themselves in a negative equity situation (where the amount of the mortgage they owned was greater than the value of their home). Some decided to walk away from their homes, and that led to a rash of distressed property listings (foreclosures and short sales), which sold at huge discounts, thus lowering the value of other homes in the area. That can’t happen today.
Bottom Line: If you’re concerned we’re making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash, take a look at the charts and graphs above to help alleviate your fears.
This will be an interesting year for residential real estate. With a presidential election taking place this fall and talk of a possible recession occurring before the end of the year, predicting what will happen in the 2020 U.S. housing market can be challenging. As a result, taking a look at the combined projections from the most trusted entities in the industry when it comes to mortgage rates, home sales, and home prices is incredibly valuable – and they may surprise you.
Projections from the experts at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac all forecast mortgage rates remaining stable throughout 2020:
Since rates have remained under 5% for the last decade, we may not fully realize the opportunity we have right now.
Here are the average mortgage interest rates over the last several decades:
Three of the four expert groups noted above also predict an increase in home sales in 2020, and the fourth sees the transaction number remaining stable:
With mortgage rates remaining near all-time lows, demand should not be a challenge. The lack of available inventory, however, may moderate the increase in sales.
Below are the projections from six different expert entities that look closely at home values: CoreLogic, Fannie Mae, Ivy Zelman’s “Z Report”, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).
Each group has home values continuing to improve through 2020, with four of them seeing price appreciation increasing at a greater pace than it did in 2019.
Is a Recession Possible?
In early 2019, a large percentage of economists began predicting a recession may occur in 2020. In addition, a recent survey of potential home purchasers showed that over 50% agreed it would occur this year. The economy, however, remained strong in the fourth quarter, and that has caused many to rethink the possibility.
For example, Goldman Sachs, in their 2020 U.S. Outlook, explained:
“Markets sounded the recession alarm this year, and the average forecaster now sees a 33% chance of recession over the next year. In contrast, our new recession model suggests just a 20% probability. Despite the record age of the expansion, the usual late-cycle problems—inflationary overheating and financial imbalances—do not look threatening.”
Mortgage rates are projected to remain under 4%, causing sales to increase in 2020. With growing demand and a limited supply of inventory, prices will continue to appreciate, while the threat of an impending recession seems to be softening. It looks like 2020 may be a solid year for the real estate market.
Over the past year, mortgage rates have fallen more than a full percentage point. This is a great driver for homeownership, as today’s low rates provide consumers with some significant benefits. Here’s a look at three of them:
Why 2019 Was a Great Year for Homeownership Last year at this time, mortgage rates were 4.63% (substantially higher than they are today). If you’re one who waited for a better time to make a move, market conditions have improved significantly. Today’s low mortgage rates combined with increasing wages are making homes much more affordable than they were just one year ago, so it’s a great time to get more for your money and consider a new home.
The chart below shows how much you would save based on today’s rates, compared to what you would have paid if you purchased a house exactly one year ago, depending on how much you finance.
Bottom Line: If you’ve been waiting since last year to make your move into homeownership, or to find a house that better meets your needs, today’s low mortgage rates may be just what you need to get the process going. Let’s get together to discuss how you can benefit from the current rates.
With interest rates around 3.66%, now is a great time to look back at where they’ve been over the past few decades. Comparatively, they’re pretty low! According to Freddie Mac, rates are projected to increase to 3.9% by this time next year. The impact your interest rate has on your monthly mortgage payment is significant. An increase of just $20 dollars in your monthly payment can add up to $240 per year and $7,200 over the life of your loan. Maybe it’s time to lock in now, while rates are still historically low. If you’re thinking of buying a home, let’s get together to make your dream a reality. #Homeownership #Buyer #InterestRates #Mortgate #RealEstate #Florida #Orlando #KTSellsFlorida
Today, on Veterans Day, we salute those who have served our country in war or peace, and we thank them for their sacrifice.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of VA Home Loan Benefit offerings through the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill. Since 1944, this law has created opportunities for those who have served our country, ranging from vocational training to home loans.
Facts About VA Home Loans:
Benefits of a VA Home Loan:
*More information on VA Home Loan Fees
Bottom Line: The best thing you can do today to celebrate Veterans Day is to share this information with those who can benefit from these opportunities. For more information, or to find out how to qualify to use a VA Home Loan Benefit, let’s get together to navigate through the process. Thank you for your service!
The gap between the increase in personal income and residential real estate prices has been used to defend the concept that we are experiencing an affordability crisis in housing today.
It is true that home prices and wages are two key elements in any affordability equation. There is, however, an extremely important third component to that equation: mortgage interest rates.
Mortgage interest rates have fallen by more than a full percentage point from this time last year. Today’s rate is 3.75%; it was 4.86% at this time last year. This has dramatically increased a purchaser’s ability to afford a home.
Here are three reports validating that purchasing a home is in fact more affordable today than it was a year ago:
CoreLogic’s Typical Mortgage Payment
“Falling mortgage rates and slower home-price growth mean that many buyers this year are committing to lower mortgage payments than they would have faced for the same home last year. After rising at a double-digit annual pace in 2018, the principal-and-interest payment on the nation’s median-priced home – what we call the “typical mortgage payment”– fell year-over-year again.”
The National Association of Realtors’ Affordability Index
“At the national level, housing affordability is up from last month and up from a year ago…All four regions saw an increase in affordability from a year ago…Payment as a percentage of income was down from a year ago.”
First American’s Real House Price Index (RHPI)
“In 2019, the dynamic duo of lower mortgage rates and rising incomes overcame the negative impact of rising house price appreciation on affordability. Indeed, affordability reached its highest point since January 2018. Focusing on nominal house price changes alone as an indication of changing affordability, or even the relationship between nominal house price growth and income growth, overlooks what matters more to potential buyers – surging house-buying power driven by the dynamic duo of mortgage rates and income growth. And, we all know from experience, you buy what you can afford to pay per month.”
Bottom Line: Though the price of homes may still be rising, the cost of purchasing a home is actually falling. If you’re thinking of buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, let’s connect so you can better understand the difference between the two.
Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You’re undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer – someone who will be able to tell you how your decisions will impact your home loan.
Below is a list of Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage. Some may seem obvious, but some may not.
1. Don’t Change Jobs or the Way You Are Paid at Your Job. Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.
2. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.
3. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios…higher ratios make for riskier loans…and sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.
4. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.
5. Don’t Change Bank Accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer any money, talk to your loan officer.
6. Don’t Apply for New Credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.
7. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts. Many clients erroneously believe that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants in your score.
Bottom Line: Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process.
Whether you’ve owned a home before, or you’re ready to jump into homeownership for the first time, there are always a lot of questions swirling around about what is truly required for a down payment, and how to best source down payment assistance. Let’s tackle these two today.
1. How much do you really need for a down payment?
There is a long-standing misconception about down payment requirements. A survey from Fannie Mae shows only 17% of consumers know the minimum options are actually between 1 – 5% of the purchase price and 40% don’t know how much they need at all.
There are many mortgage loans available that require as little as 3% down for first-time buyers, and some ask for only 3.5% down from repeat buyers. There are even loans available for Veterans that provide 0% down payment options too.
We’ve mentioned recently that you don’t need to come up with a 20% down payment to buy, and we’ve also shared how quickly you can save for a 3% or 10% down payment, depending on where you live. If you’re planning to put down just 3%, the research shows it may be possible in most states to have enough saved for a down payment in less than a year. That puts homeownership in a much closer reach for many potential buyers, maybe even you!
2. How can I get help with my down payment?
Regardless of the loans available, many buyers still need assistance with a down payment. The great news is, there are a lot of ways to tap into down payment assistance options. Here are just a couple of them:
Assistance from Family Members
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said, “a third of recent first-time buyers received down payment assistance from family members.” They also mentioned, “the average net worth of those aged 75 and over stands at $264,800…They just might offer the boost the next generation needs to become homeowners.”
That means one of the ways to find help with a down payment is to accept a gift from a family member. If this is an option for you, make sure you talk to your loan officer before you accept the money, to ensure you document the process the way it is required by your loan. This way, it will be received properly and you can still potentially qualify.
Down Payment Assistance Programs
The reality is, not everyone has a loved one or a family member who can provide help with a down payment. There are, however, more than 2,500 down payment assistance programs available (by local areas like city, county, or neighborhood), and some of them are even specifically for first-time buyers.
The gap, as mentioned in the same survey, is “only 23% of consumers are familiar with low down payment programs.”
That’s why it is so important to get familiar with these options by doing your homework before you plan to buy a home. Determine what is available in the area where you ultimately want to live, so you have all the details you need to take advantage of the down payment assistance option that is best for your family.
Bottom Line: If buying a home is one of your long-term goals, you may be able to get there sooner than you think by tapping into one of the many down payment assistance programs available.
With the recent lower interest rates, many homeowners are wondering if they should refinance.
To decide if refinancing is the best option for your family, start by asking yourself these questions:
Why do you want to refinance? There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:
How much is it going to cost? There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and Lenders Network explains:
“If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs will run between 2%-4% of the loan amount.”
They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:
“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually pay charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”
If you’re comfortable with the costs of refinancing, then ask yourself one more question:
Is it worth it? To answer this one, we’ll use an example. Let’s assume you have a $200,000 home loan. A 4% refinance cost will be $10,000. If you want to lower your interest rate from 6% to 4%, then refinancing is going to save you $244 per month. To break even ($10,000/$244), you need to continue owning your home for over 40 months.
Now that you know how the math shakes out, think about how much longer you’d like to own your current home. If you plan to stay for more than 3 years, then maybe it is advantageous for you to refinance.
If, however, your current home does not fulfill your present needs, you might want to consider using your potential refinance costs for a down payment on a new move-up home. You will still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home of your dreams.
Bottom Line: There are many opportunities for growth in the current real estate market. To find out what’s right for your family, let’s get together to help you understand your options and guide you toward the best decision.
So you made an offer and it was accepted. Now, your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Agents oftentimes make your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.
This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or in some cases, to walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.
How to Choose an Inspector
Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. HGTV recommends that you consider the following five areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:
1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. In most cases, the more detailed the report, the better.
3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to ask about their experiences.
4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that continued training and education are provided.
5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human, after all, and it is possible that they might have missed something they should have seen.
Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection. That way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.
Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace and chimney, the foundation, and so much more!
Bottom Line: They say, ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional who you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.
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.
Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have been on the decline since November, now reaching lows last seen in January 2018. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates came in at 4.12% last week!
This is great news for anyone who is planning on buying a home this spring! Freddie Mac had this to say,
“Mortgage interest rates have been steadily declining since the start of 2019. These lower mortgage interest rates combined with a strong labor market should attract prospective homebuyers this spring and could help the housing sector regain its momentum later in the year.”
To put the low rates in perspective, the average for 2018 was 4.6%! The chart below shows the recent drop, and also shows where the experts at Freddie Mac believe rates will be by the end of 2019.
Bottom Line: If you plan on buying a home this year, let’s get together to start your home search to ensure you can lock in these historically low rates today!
If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.
Ask yourself the following three questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.
1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?
This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money. For example, a study by realtor.com found that “73% said buying in a good school district was “important” in their search.”
This report supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. The actual reasons are:
2. Where are home values headed?
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in February (the latest data available) was $249,500. This is up 3.6% from last year. The increase also marks the 84th consecutive month with year-over-year gains.
Looking at home prices year over year, CoreLogic is forecasting an increase of 4.6%. In other words, a home that costs you $250,000 today will cost you an additional $11,500 if you wait until next year to buy it.
What does that mean to you? Simply put, with prices increasing, it may cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy.
3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?
A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.
Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and NAR have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below:
Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.
Katie Tedesco is a FULL-TIME REALTOR® with Watson Realty Corp.