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Keeping Current Matters

Ready to Make an Offer? 4 Tips for Success

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So you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home’ and you finally found one! 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 your dream of making this house yours comes true!Freddie Mac covered 4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 Tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ really should take place before you start your home search process. As we’ve mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 4.7-month supply. This is 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 home. Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:

“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”

Consider ways of making your offer stand out! Many buyers write a personal letter to the seller letting them know how much they would love to be the new homeowners. Your agent will be able to help you figure out if there are any other ways your offer could stand above the rest.

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford. Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”

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 inspection uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can typically re-negotiate the terms or cancel the contract.”

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional who is an expert in their market on your side is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!

 

Keeping Current Matters

76% Of US Homeowners Now Have at Least 20% Equity in Their Homes!

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CoreLogic‘s latest Equity Report revealed that 91.1% of all mortgaged properties are now in a positive equity situation, while 75.9% now have significant equity (defined as more than 20%)! The report also revealed that 548,000 households regained equity in the second quarter of 2016 and are no longer under water.

Price Appreciation = Good News for Homeowners

Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist, explains:

“Home-value gains have played a large part in restoring home equity. The CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) for the U.S. recorded 5.2 percent growth in the year through June, an important reason that the number of owners with negative equity fell by 850,000 in the second quarter from a year earlier.”

Anand Nallathambi, President & CEO of CoreLogic, believes this is a great sign for the market in the coming year as well, as he had this to say:

“We see home prices rising another 5 percent in the coming year based on the latest projected national CoreLogic Home Price Index. Assuming this growth is uniform across the U.S., that should release an additional 700,000 homeowners from the scourge of negative equity.”

Below is a map illustrating the percentage of households in each state with significant equity:

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Many homeowners with more than 20% equity in their home would be able to use that equity as a down payment on either a larger home, or even a retirement home.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many Americans who are unsure of how much equity you have in your home, don’t let that be the reason you fail to move on to your dream home this year!

Keeping Current Matters

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Using an Agent When Selling Your Home

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When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price with the least amount of hassles. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is to actually get the home sold. In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. For the past three years, 92% of all buyers have used the internet in their home search according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.However, the report also revealed that 95% percent of buyers that used the internet when searching for a home purchased their home through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their home directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know. Buyers search for a home online, but then depend on an agent to find the actual home they will buy (53%), to negotiate the terms of the sale & price (48%), or to help understand the process (60%). The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots.” This is obvious, as the percentage of overall buyers who used an agent to buy their home has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

 

Keeping Current Matters

50% of Houses sold in 36 Days or Less in July [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed their members for their Confidence Index
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions.
  • Homes sold in less than 60 days in 38 out of 50 states and Washington D.C.
  • Homes sold in less than 30 days in 17 states

 

Keeping Current Matters

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Owning a home has great financial benefits. Because of this, more and more experts are growing concerned about the ramifications of a falling homeownership rate. Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed. The outcomes of a falling homeownership rate can be devastating. As explained by Apartment List.com:

“Our research indicates that not owning a home has a sizable financial cost, as renters miss out on low mortgage rates and are hit by higher rents. This phenomenon may exacerbate inequality in our society, as those wealthy enough to invest in real estate benefit from lower interest rates, whereas minorities and younger Americans, hit by rising rents and student debt, risk being locked out of homeownership.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

1. A study published by the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University shows the financial benefits of homeownership. The study mentions five major financial benefits:

  • Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available
  • You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent
  • Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”
  • There are substantial tax benefits to owning
  • Owning is a hedge against inflation

2. Studies have shown that homeowners have a net worth that is 45X greater than that of a renter. 3. Just last month, we explained that a family buying an average priced home this past January could build more than $46,000 in family wealth over the next five years. 4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs. Every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are baked into the rent payment already – along with a profit margin!!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has always been, and will always be better from a financial standpoint than renting.

Keeping Current Matters

Mortgage Standards Easing TOO MUCH? NO!!

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There is no doubt that getting a mortgage is easier today than it was right after the housing crash a decade ago. However, the easing of credit availability has led to some questioning of whether or not we are headed for another housing crisis. Let’s put everything into the proper perspective.

Mortgage Credit Availability Over the Last Three Years

Getting a home mortgage has definitely gotten easier over the last three years as evidenced by the Mortgage Credit Availability Index, issued by the Mortgage Bankers Association, in

Getting a home mortgage has definitely gotten easier over the last three years as evidenced by the Mortgage Credit Availability Index, issued by the Mortgage Bankers Association, in the following graph (the higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage) However, if we look further back at the index we see quite a different story

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Mortgage Credit Availability Today Compared to 2006

The graph below shows the index going back to 2004, and the first graph we showed you above is represented by the small, orange, triangular section all the way in the lower-right As this visual easily illustrates, today’s index is nowhere near the levels it shot up to in 2006.

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Bottom Line

Mortgage credit is definitely easing. However, we are not coming close to the lax standards that caused the housing crisis of last decade.

 

Keeping Current Matters

Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step

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In many markets across the country, the amount of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. 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, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach. Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

 

Keeping Current Matters

Interest Rates Remain at Historic Lows… But for How Long?

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The interest rate you pay on your home mortgage has a direct impact on your monthly payment; The higher the rate, the greater your payment will be. That is why it is important to look at where the experts believe rates are headed when deciding to buy now or wait until next year. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has fallen half a percentage point since the beginning of the year and has remained at or below 3.5% for the last 11 weeks according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The chart below shows how far rates have fallen this year (on the left), and uses an average of the projections fromFreddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and National Association of Realtors (on the right). As you can see, interest rates are projected to increase steadily over the course of the next 12 months.

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How Will This Impact Your Mortgage Payment?

Depending on the amount of the loan that you secure, a half of a percent (.5%) increase in interest rate can increase your monthly mortgage payment significantly. According toCoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, national home prices have appreciated 6.0% over the last year and are predicted to be 5.4% higher next year. If both the predictions of home prices and interest rate increases become a reality, families will wind up paying considerably more for their next home.

Bottom Line

Even a small increase in interest rate can impact your family’s wealth. Meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate your ability to purchase your dream home.

Keeping Current Matters

Home Prices Up 5.61% Across The Country! [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights:

  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently released their latest Quarterly Home Price Index report.
  • In the report, home prices are compared both regionally and by state.
  • Based on the latest numbers, if you plan on relocating to another state, waiting to move may end up costing you more!
  • Vermont was the only one state where home prices are actually lower than they were last year.

 

Keeping Current Matters

New Construction Numbers: Now Versus 2005

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There is some thinking that the pace of the housing recovery is unsustainable and that we may be heading for another housing bubble. However, Jonathan Smoke, the Chief Economist of realtor.com explains the basic difference between 2005 and today:

“The havoc during the last cycle was the result of building too many homes and of speculation fueled by loose credit. That’s the exact opposite of what we have today.”

If we look at the number of new single family housing starts over the last 30 years, we can see that the numbers of housing starts during the current recovery (2012-Today) are still way below historic averages, and are far less than the numbers built during the run-up to the housing bubble (2002-2006).

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A single family housing start is defined as “the number of permits issued for construction of new single family housing units. Housing starts are an important economic indicator due to its extensive spill over benefits for the other sectors of the economy (retail, manufacturing, utilities).”

Bottom Line

Current demand for housing actually calls for more new construction to be built – not less. We should at least return to historically normal levels.

 

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