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Keeping Current Matters

3 Questions Every Buyer Should Ask Themselves

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market. Answering the following 3 questions will help you determine if now is actually a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is 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 recent survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.” This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the four major reasons why people buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home values are projected to increase by 5.3% over the next 12 months.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, if you are planning on buying a home that costs $250,000 today, that same home will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait till next year. Your down payment will need to be higher as well to account for the higher home price.

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. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months as you can see in the chart below:

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Bottom Line

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.

Keeping Current Matters

Should I Wait Until Next Year? Or Buy Now? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights:

  • The Cost of Waiting to Buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 4.6% by next year.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 5.3% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!

Keeping Current Matters

3 Crucial Questions Most Home Buyers Don’t Know the Answer To…DO YOU?

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Whether you are considering the purchase of your first home or trading up to the home your family frequently fantasizes about, there are three crucial questions you must know the answer to:

  1. What is the minimum down payment required to purchase a home?

  2. What is the minimum FICO score required to qualify for a mortgage?

  3. What is the maximum Back-End DTI Ratio allowed?

A survey conducted by Fannie Mae revealed startling information: most Americans don’t know the answer to these three crucially important questions. Here is a graphic showing the results of the survey:

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The percentages are quite disturbing but can explain why so many people believe they are not eligible to purchase a home whether it is a first home or a trade-up home. Here are the actually requirements as per Fannie Mae:

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Bottom Line

If you are considering purchasing a home, make sure you are aware of all your options before moving forward.

Keeping Current Matters

Would You Qualify for a Mortgage Now?

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The widespread myth that perfect credit and large down payments are necessary to buy a home are holding many potential home buyers on the sidelines. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Report, the average FICO score for all closed loans in May was 724, far lower than the 750 or 800 that many buyers believe to be true. Below is a graph of the distribution of FICO scores of approved loans in May (the latest available data):

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Looking at the chart above, it becomes obvious that not only do you not need a 750+ credit score, but 54.9% of approved loans actually had a score between 600 and 749. More and more experts are speaking up about the fact that if potential buyers realized they could be approved for a mortgage with a credit score at, or above, 600, the distribution in the chart above would shift further to the left. Ellie Mae’s Vice President, Jonas Moeencouraged buyers to know their options before assuming that they do not qualify for a mortgage:

“The high median credit score is due to many millennials believing they won’t qualify with the score they have – and are therefore waiting to apply for a mortgage until they have the score they think they need.” (emphasis added)

CoreLogic’s latest MarketPulse Report agrees that the median FICO score does not always tell the whole story:

“The observed decline in originations could be a result of potential applicants being either too cautious or discouraged from applying, more so than tight underwriting as the culprit in lower mortgage activity.”

It’s not just millennials who believe high credit scores and large down payments are needed. Many current homeowners are delaying moving on to a home that better fits their current needs due to a belief that they would not qualify for a mortgage today.

So what does this all mean?

Moe put it this way:

“Many potential home buyers are ‘disqualifying’ themselves. You don’t need a 750 FICO Score and a 20% down payment to buy.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many Americans who has always thought homeownership was out of their reach, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you start the process of being pre-qualified to see if you are able to buy now!

Keeping Current Matters

Homeownership Builds Wealth & Offers Stability

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The most recent Housing Pulse Survey released by the National Association of Realtors revealed that the two major reasons Americans prefer owning their own home instead of renting are:

  1. They want the opportunity to build equity.
  2. They want a stable and safe environment.

Building Equity

John Taylor, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, explains that those who lack the opportunity to become homeowners have a weakened ability to reinvest their wealth:

“We traditionally have been huge supporters of homeownership. We see it as a way to provide stability for households but also as an asset-building strategy. If you continue to be a renter, locked out of the homeownership arena, increasingly those things are further and further out of reach. They’re joined at the hip. They perpetuate each other.”

Family Stability

Does owning your home really create a more stable environment for your family? A survey of property managers conducted by rent.com disclosed two reasons tenants should feel less stable with their housing situation:

  • 68% of property managers predict that rental rates will continue to rise in the next year by an average of 8%.
  • 53% of property managers said that they were more likely to bring in a new tenant at a higher rate than negotiate and renew a lease with a current tenant they already know.

We can see from these survey results that renting will provide anything but a stable environment in the near future.

Bottom Line

Homeowners enjoy a more stable environment and at the same time are given the opportunity to build their family’s net worth.

 

Posted by: Lacey Everett on Sunday, July 10, 2016 at 8:30:00 am
Buying and Selling A Home
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Having a basic understanding of important real estate concepts before you start the homebuying process will give you peace of mind now and could save you a fortune in the future. Here are ten real estate terms you should know before you start looking for a home. Guess who else can help you navigate the process? Your REALTOR®! Find a REALTOR® here.

    1. Buyer’s Agent vs. Listing Agent

      There are usually two agents involved when you buy a home; the “buyer’s agent,” who represents you, and the “listing agent,” who represents the home seller. Dual agency is when there is only one agent representing both sides of the transaction.

    2. Fixed Rate vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgages

      Conventional loans include “fixed rate” and “adjustable rate” mortgages. A fixed rate mortgage has a predetermined interest rate throughout the life of the loan; the most common are for 30 years. An adjustable rate mortgage has a variable interest rate; the most common are for 5, 7, or 10 years.

    3. Pre-approval Letter

      Before you apply for a mortgage or even start looking for a home, you should get a pre-approval letter from the bank, which is an estimate of how much they’ll lend you. This letter will help you determine what you can afford, and ensures home sellers that you will be able to get a loan when needed.

    4. Listings

      REALTORS® frequently refer to homes for sale as “listings.” A “listing” on a website shows information about the home, like the price and number of bedrooms. 

    5. Inspection

      After you’ve made an offer on a home, you’ll need to schedule an inspection, which costs around $500 – $800, depending on the market. The inspector will go through every nook and cranny, and review things like the plumbing, electrical, foundation, walls, heating, and appliances.

    6. Appraisal

      When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will require an appraisal of the home you want to buy. A licensed appraiser will estimate the home’s value based on comparable homes that have sold in the area and an investigation of the property.

    7. Contingencies

      When you put in an offer on a home, you can specify certain conditions that must be met before the deal will go through – these are called contingencies. You have to make sure you can actually get the loan (a financing contingency), that the inspection doesn’t show anything too crazy (inspection contingency), and that the appraised value is close to what you’re offering to pay (appraisal contingency). Those are just a few common examples; there are several other types of contingencies, which you should discuss with your REALTOR®.

    8. Offers and Contracts

      Once you find the right home, you’ll make an offer on the property with the help of an agent or attorney. If the seller counters your original offer, it’s usually because they want more money or a faster timeline for closing the deal, at which point you’ll have to negotiate. When submitting an offer, it’s a good idea to add a personal touch by including a cover letter that explains why you want to buy the home.

    9. Closing Costs

      Be prepared to pay a lot of fees when you purchase a home. Typically, closing costs will amount to 2-5% of the purchase price of the home, and that doesn’t include the down payment. Common fees include excise tax, loan-processing costs and title insurance. 

    10. Title Insurance

      After all the negotiations are done and the seller has accepted your offer, you should receive a home title report within a week. Most mortgage lenders require you to pay title insurance as part of the closing costs; title insurers search the public records to make sure the home seller actually had rights to the title and that there are no liens on the home (like an unpaid contractor or unpaid taxes).

Sources: Redfin.com and HouseLogic.com 

 

Keeping Current Matters

Saving to Buy a Home? Do You Know the Difference Between Cost & Price?

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As a seller, you will be most concerned with the ‘short term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, you must be concerned not with price but instead with the ‘long term cost’ of the home. Many economists have pointed to Brexit (Britain’s exit from the European Union) as a reason that interest rates will remain low for the next few months. But Trulia’s Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin warns that this will not always be the case in a recent post:

“While the departure of the UK from the European Union has driven down the 10-year bond, and thus mortgage rates, we expect them to rebound later in the year as uncertainty over the economic consequences of the departure lifts.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Freddie Mac all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by close to a full percentage point over the next twelve months. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 5.3% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?  Here is a simple demonstration of what impact an interest rate increase would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today if home prices appreciate by the 5.3% predicted by CoreLogic over the next twelve months:

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Keeping Current Matters

Is Now the Right Time to Put Your House on the Market …or Not?

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Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings. The report revealed that this May’s numbers weren’t quite as good as the year before:

“With last month’s decline, the index reading is still the third highest in the past year, but declined year-over-year for the first time since August 2014.”

The mainstream media ran headlines highlighting that the index had dropped for the first time in two years. Many read this as an indication that the housing market must be slowing down. If you were thinking that now may be the perfect time to put your house on the market, these reports may have caused you some concern. We want to alleviate that concern today. Though it is true that the index dropped in last month’s report, let’s take a closer look at the numbers. Below is a graph of the index since January 2014. We can see that the index has increased every month over the last eighteen months, leading up to this past May.

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Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, explained that it wasn’t a slowing of the market that caused the index to slip, but instead a lack of housing inventory:

“Total housing inventory at the end of each month has remarkably decreased year-over-year now for an entire year. There are simply not enough homes coming onto the market to catch up with demand.”

Here is a graph depicting the situation Yun was referencing:

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Bottom Line

Did the latest numbers from the Pending Home Sales Index cause you to question if now is a good time to put your house on the market? If anything, it indicated the exact opposite: that this may be the perfect time to sell!!

 

Keeping Current Matters

2 Tips For Getting The Most Money When Selling Your House

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Every homeowner wants to make sure they get the best price when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to ensuring you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

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Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. In that way, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price, but instead will have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house. Realtor.com, gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This too may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would net more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional. Research posted by the Economists’ Outlook Blog revealed that:

“The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $151,900. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $249,000 – nearly $40,000 more for the typical home sale.”

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Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. That will guarantee you maximize the price you get for your house.

Keeping Current Matters

4 Reasons to Buy This Summer!

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Summer is here! The temperature isn’t the only thing heating up right now, so too is the housing market in many areas of the country! Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.2% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.3% over the next year. The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects home values to appreciate by more than 3.2% a year for the next 5 years. The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4%. Most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point 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

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does–as Americans intuit–end up making more financial sense than renting.”

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

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But what if they weren’t? Would you wait? Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

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

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