Mera Peak Trek and Climb Nepal

In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate through the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.

We are, however, in anything but a normal market right now. We are amid one of the greatest health crises our nation has ever seen. The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the journey consumers take to purchase or sell a home. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’

According to Lexico, a Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.

They are much more than just guides.

This is much more than a normal real estate market.

Today, the average guide just won’t do. You need a Sherpa. You need an expert who understands how COVID-19 is impacting the thoughts and actions of the consumer (ex: virtual showings, proper safety protocols, e-signing documents). You need someone who can simply and effectively explain the changes in today’s process to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, especially in these challenging times.

Bottom Line

Hiring an agent who understands how the pandemic is reshaping the real estate processes is crucial right now. Find that ‘Real Estate Sherpa’ to guarantee your journey is a safe and successful one.

Green and red arrow signs pointing in up and down direction. Buy and Sell Concept.

With the housing market staggered to some degree by the health crisis the country is currently facing, some potential purchasers are questioning whether home values will be impacted. The price of any item is determined by supply as well as the market’s demand for that item.

Each month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for the REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand) during this pandemic.

Buyer Demand

Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | Keeping Current Matters

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 34 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now ‘strong’ and 16 of the 50 states have a ‘stable’ demand.

Seller Supply

Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | Keeping Current Matters

The index also asks: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”As the map above indicates, 46 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 3 states reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 1 state reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the needs of buyers looking for homes right now.

With demand still stronger than supply, home values should not depreciate.

What are the experts saying?

Here are the thoughts of three industry experts on the subject:

Ivy Zelman:

“We note that inventory as a percent of households sits at the lowest level ever, something we believe will limit the overall degree of home price pressure through the year.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

“Housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s not likely to go negative.”

Freddie Mac:

“Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand.”

Bottom Line

Looking at these maps and listening to the experts, it seems that prices will remain stable throughout 2020. If you’re thinking about listing your home, connect with a local real estate professional who can help you capitalize on the somewhat surprising demand in the market now.

Portrait of woman sitting on the floor of living room meditating

In times of uncertainty, one of the best things we can do to ease our fears is to educate ourselves with research, facts, and data. Digging into past experiences by reviewing historical trends and understanding the peaks and valleys of what’s come before us is one of the many ways we can confidently evaluate any situation. With concerns of a global recession on everyone’s minds today, it’s important to take an objective look at what has transpired over the years and how the housing market has successfully weathered these storms.

1. The Market Today Is Vastly Different from 2008

We all remember 2008. This is not 2008. Today’s market conditions are far from the time when housing was a key factor that triggered a recession. From easy-to-access mortgages to skyrocketing home price appreciation, a surplus of inventory, excessive equity-tapping, and more – we’re not where we were 12 years ago. None of those factors are in play today. Rest assured, housing is not a catalyst that could spiral us back to that time or place.

According to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com, if there is a recession:

“It will be different than the Great Recession. Things unraveled pretty quickly, and then the recovery was pretty slow. I would expect this to be milder. There’s no dysfunction in the banking system, we don’t have many households who are overleveraged with their mortgage payments and are potentially in trouble.”

Three Reasons Why This Is Not a Housing Crisis | Keeping Current Matters

In addition, the Goldman Sachs GDP Forecast released this week indicates that although there is no growth anticipated immediately, gains are forecasted heading into the second half of this year and getting even stronger in early 2021.Both of these expert sources indicate this is a momentary event in time, not a collapse of the financial industry. It is a drop that will rebound quickly, a stark difference to the crash of 2008 that failed to get back to a sense of normal for almost four years. Although it poses plenty of near-term financial challenges, a potential recession this year is not a repeat of the long-term housing market crash we remember all too well.

2. A Recession Does Not Equal a Housing Crisis

Three Reasons Why This Is Not a Housing Crisis | Keeping Current Matters

Next, take a look at the past five recessions in U.S. history. Home values actually appreciated in three of them. It is true that they sank by almost 20% during the last recession, but as we’ve identified above, 2008 presented different circumstances. In the four previous recessions, home values depreciated only once (by less than 2%). In the other three, residential real estate values increased by 3.5%, 6.1%, and 6.6% (see below):

3. We Can Be Confident About What We Know

Concerns about the global impact COVID-19 will have on the economy are real. And they’re scary, as the health and wellness of our friends, families, and loved ones are high on everyone’s emotional radar.

According to Bloomberg,

“Several economists made clear that the extent of the economic wreckage will depend on factors such as how long the virus lasts, whether governments will loosen fiscal policy enough and can markets avoid freezing up.”

That said, we can be confident that, while we don’t know the exact impact the virus will have on the housing market, we do know that housing isn’t the driver.

The reasons we move – marriage, children, job changes, retirement, etc. – are steadfast parts of life. As noted in a recent piece in the New York Times, “Everyone needs someplace to live.” That won’t change.

Bottom Line

Concerns about a recession are real, but housing isn’t the driver. If you have questions about what it means for your family’s homebuying or selling plans, reach out to a local real estate professional to discuss your needs.

Apple and orange against yellow and green background.

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.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | Keeping Current Matters

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.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | Keeping Current Matters

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.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | Keeping Current Matters

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.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | Keeping Current Matters

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.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | Keeping Current Matters

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.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused massive global uncertainty, including a U.S. stock market correction no one could have seen coming. While much of the news has been about the effect on various markets, let’s also acknowledge the true impact it continues to have on lives and families around the world.

With all this uncertainty, how do you make powerful and confident decisions in regard to your real estate plans?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) anticipates:

“At the very least, the coronavirus could cause some people to put home sales on hold.”

While this is an understandable approach, it is important to balance that with how it may end up costing you in the long run. If you’re considering buying or selling a home, it is key to educate yourself so that you can take thoughtful and intentional next steps for your future.

For example, when there’s fear in the world, we see lower mortgage interest rates as investors flee stocks for the safety of U.S. bonds. This connection should be considered when making real estate decisions.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

“The Fed’s action was expected but perhaps not to this degree and timing. And the policy change was consistent with recent declines for interest rates in the bond market. These declines should push mortgage interest rates closer to a low 3% average for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.”

This is exactly what we’re experiencing right now as mortgage interest rates hover at the lowest levels in the history of the housing market.

Bottom Line

The full impact of the Coronavirus is still not yet known. It is in times like these that working with an informed and educated real estate professional can make all the difference in the world.

Child measuring his height on wall. He is growing up so fast.

Unlike last year, the residential real estate market kicked off 2020 with a bang! In their latest Monthly Mortgage MonitorBlack Knight proclaimed:

“The housing market is heating entering 2020 and recent rate declines could continue that trend, a sharp contrast to the strong cooling that was seen at this same time last year.”

Zillow revealed they’re also seeing a robust beginning to the year. Jeff Tucker, Zillow Economist, said:

“Our first look at 2020 data suggests that we could see the most competitive home shopping season in years, as buyers are already competing over…homes for sale.”

Buying demand is very strong. The latest Showing Index from ShowingTime reported a 20.2% year-over-year increase in purchaser traffic across the country, the sixth consecutive month of nationwide growth, and the largest increase in the history of the index.

The even better news is that buyers are not just looking. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that closed sales increased 9.6% from a year ago.

This increase in overall activity has caused Zelman & Associates to increase their projection for home price appreciation in 2020 from 3.7% to 4.7%.

Are we headed for another housing crash like we had last decade?

Whenever price appreciation begins to accelerate, the fear of the last housing boom and bust creeps into the minds of the American population. The pain felt during the last housing crash scarred us deeply, and understandably so. The crash led us into the Great Recession of 2008.

Real Estate Is Soaring, But Not Like 2008 | Keeping Current Matters

If we take a closer look, however, we can see the current situation is nothing like it was in the last decade. As an example, let’s look at price appreciation for the six years prior to the last boom (2006) and compare it to the last six years: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 leading up to the housing crash.

Today, the strength of the housing market is actually helping prevent a setback in the overall economy. In a recent post, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American explained:

“While the housing crisis is still fresh on the minds of many, and was the catalyst of the Great Recession, the U.S. housing market has weathered all other recessions since 1980. With the exception of the Great Recession, house price appreciation hardly skipped a beat and year-over-year existing-home sales growth barely declined in all the other previous recessions in the last 40 years…In 2020, we argue the housing market is more likely poised to help stave off recession than fall victim to it.”

Bottom Line

The year has started off very nicely for the residential housing market. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, now may be the time to meet with a real estate professional to discuss your options.

Beautiful white daffodil flowers in morning sunlight, taken in the springtime.

Spring is right around the corner, so flowers are starting to bloom, and many potential homebuyers are getting ready to step into the market. If you’re thinking of buying this season, here’s how mortgage interest rates are working in your favor.

Freddie Mac explains:

If you’re in the market to buy a home, today’s average mortgage rates are something to celebrate compared to almost any year since 1971…

Mortgage rates change frequently. Over the last 45 years, they have ranged from a high of 18.63% (1981) to a low of 3.31% (2012). While it’s not likely that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate will return to its record low, the current average rate of 3.45% is pretty close — all to your advantage.”

How Interest Rates Can Impact Your Monthly Housing Payments | Keeping Current Matters

To put this in perspective, the following chart from the same article shows how average mortgage rates by decade have impacted the approximate monthly payment of a $200,000 home over time:Clearly, when rates are low – like they are today – qualified buyers can benefit significantly over time.

Keep in mind, if interest rates go up, this can push many potential homebuyers out of the market. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes:

“Prospective home buyers are also adversely affected when interest rates rise. NAHB’s priced-out estimates show that, depending on the starting rate, a quarter-point increase in the rate of 3.75% on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage can price over 1.3 million U.S. households out of the market for the median-priced new home.”

Bottom Line

You certainly don’t want to be priced out of the market this year, and waiting may mean a significant change in your potential mortgage payment should rates start to rise. If your financial situation allows, now may be a great time to lock in at a low mortgage rate to benefit greatly over the lifetime of your loan.

Portrait of an excited woman reading good news in a letter at home

If you’re looking to buy a home in 2020, have you thought about putting your tax refund toward a down payment? Homeownership may be one step closer than you think if you spend your dollars wisely this year.

Based on data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $2,962 when filing their taxes this year.

How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Homeownership This Year | Keeping Current Matters

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state:According to programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae, many first-time buyers can purchase a home with as little as 3% down. Truth be told, a 20% down payment is not always required to buy a home, even though that’s a common misconception about homebuying. Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

How can my tax refund help?

If you’re a first-time buyer, your tax refund may cover more of a down payment than you ever thought possible.

How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Homeownership This Year | Keeping Current Matters

If you take into account the median home sale price by state, the map below shows the percentage of a 3% down payment that’s covered by the average tax refund:The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership in one of these programs. Maybe this is the year to plan ahead and put your tax refund toward a down payment on a home.

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task, but the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you’ll be to make the best decision for you and your family. This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership.

Residential buildings and easel with a positive growth trend chart. Market growth, attracting investment. Raising taxes and house maintenance. Real estate price increases. High demand and value

The housing market has started off much stronger this year than it did last year. Lower mortgage interest rates have been a driving factor in that change. The average 30-year rate in 2019, according to Freddie Mac, was 3.94%. Today that rate is closer to 3.5%.

The Census Bureau also just reported the highest homeownership rate since 2014 for people under 35. This is evidence that owning their own home is becoming more important to Millennials as they reach the age where marriage and children are part of their lives.

Thinking of Selling? Now May Be the Time. | Keeping Current Matters

According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer demand across the country is strong. That’s not the case, however, with seller demand, which remains weak throughout most of the nation. Here’s a breakdown by state:Demand for housing is high, but supply is extremely low. NAR also just reported that the actual number of homes currently for sale stands at 1.42 million, which is one of the lowest totals in almost three decades. Additionally, the ratio of homes for sale to the number purchased currently stands at 3.1 months of inventory. In a normal market, that number would be nearly double that at 6.0 months of inventory.

What does this mean for buyers and sellers?

Buyers need to remain patient in the search process. At the same time, buyers must be ready to act immediately once they find the right home.

Sellers may not want to wait until spring to put their houses on the market. With demand so high and supply so low, now is the perfect time to sell your house for the greatest dollar value and the least hassle.

Bottom Line

The real estate market is entering the year like a lion. There’s no indication it will lose that roar, assuming inventory continues to come to market.

Mother and daughter gardening together

One thing helping homeowners right now is price appreciation, especially in the entry-level market. In the latest Home Price Insights report, CoreLogic reveals how home prices increased by 4% year-over-year and projects prices will rise 5.2% by December 2020.

Why is this good news for the homeowners?

When prices appreciate, homeowners gain equity. In addition, those planning to sell this year, especially in the entry-level market, can potentially earn a substantial profit.

Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, says:

“Moderately priced homes are in high demand and short supply, pushing up values…Homes that sold for 25% or more below the local median price experienced a 5.9% price gain in 2019, compared with a 3.7% gain for homes that sold for 25% or more above the median.”

As Dr. Nothaft indicates, the lack of inventory continues to drive home price growth. This means there’s a high demand for homes in this tier of the market, making it a great time to consider using your equity to move up to a bigger or more premium home.

When you upgrade your home, you may be able to find the amenities or features you’ve dreamed of – such as a yard to plant or garden in with your family this spring, or more outdoor space for entertaining this summer. Maybe it’s the master bath you’ve always hoped for, or a garage to finally park your car inside.

Whatever you choose, if you’re moving out of an entry-level house, you’re likely going to be in the driver’s seat as a seller.

Bottom Line

If you’d like to own a bigger home, sit down with a local real estate professional to discuss your situation. You may be surprised by the current value of your home and the equity you’ve gained.

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