Success is something often worth repeating, and Brent Sutherland, a Certified Financial Planner and Real Estate Investor, has certainly made his way in a momentum-driving direction. Here are 3 tips he shares from a recent piece in Business Insider on the benefits of owning real estate:

1. Real estate diversifies your income

“While it is certainly important to be properly diversified with your investments, it is even more important to be diversified with your income. This is because the largest financial risk for most of you is the loss of your primary source of income, which is typically in the form of a day job.”

The article highlights how having multiple sources of income, such as those derived from real estate investments, can eventually lead to relying less and less on a day job. Sound dreamy? It can be. When done well, real estate investments may eventually open up your time and the financial freedom to explore other things, like travel and other aspirations you may have for the future, particularly in the golden years of retirement.

2. Real estate produces near-immediate results

“You can achieve and feel the results almost immediately. Property improvements are visible and tangible. You can cash, spend, and invest rent payments. Today! Not 30 years in the future.”

Currently, home prices are appreciating in all price ranges, and just last week CoreLogic announced their 12-month home value projection at 5.6%, an increase from 4.5% noted earlier this summer. With that in mind, real estate today is definitely driving immediate results!

3. Passive income can help you become financially independent sooner

“If you need $40,000 a year to live, you could alternatively invest in assets that generate an 8% cash-on-cash return. This is a very reasonable assumption. And it means you would only need to save a total of $500,000 (instead of $1 million). Yet, your investments would still meet your annual household living needs.

While returns, taxes, and inflation can, of course, affect your timeline, cash-flowing real-estate is a clear asset.”

Homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you’re contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity in your home, bringing you one step closer to true financial independence.

Bottom Line

If you want to increase your savings and overall net worth, real estate is a great way to go. To learn how you can make it happen, contact a local real estate professional to guide you through the process.

Who is Brent Sutherland?

Sutherland was 35 when he bought his first single home to rent out for income, less than five years later, he owns eight additional properties and part of a commercial real estate project.

In a recent article, First American shared how millennials are not really any different from previous generations when it comes to the goal of homeownership; it is still a huge part of their American Dream. The piece, however, also reveals,

“Saving for a down payment is one of the biggest obstacles faced by first-time home buyers. Dispelling the 20 percent down payment myth could open the path to homeownership for many more.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers often overestimate how much they need to qualify for a home loan. According to the same article:

“Americans still overestimate the qualifications needed to get a mortgage, resulting in qualified potential buyers not even considering homeownership. Indeed, the Urban Institute report revealed that 16 percent of consumers believed that the minimum down payment required by lenders is 20 percent or more, and another 40 percent didn’t know at all.”

While many potential buyers still think they need to put at least 20% down for the home of their dreams, they often don’t realize how many assistance programs are available with as little as 3% down. With a little research, many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined.

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

In addition to down payments, buyers are also often confused about the FICO® score it takes to qualify for a mortgage, believing a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Keeping Current Matters

To debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.As indicated in the chart above, 50.23% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 500-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Believe it or not – your dream home may already be within your reach.

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting and buying a home has been a tough decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (27.7%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (17.5%), the choice is clear.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying a home this year.
Piggy bank finding way reach out to a model house through from through a maze.

Some are afraid the real estate market may be looking a lot like it did prior to the housing crash in 2008. One of the factors they’re pointing at is the availability of mortgage money. Recent articles about the availability of low-down payment loans and down payment assistance programs are causing concern that we’re returning to the bad habits of a decade ago. Let’s alleviate the fears about the current mortgage market.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases an index several times a year titled: The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their website:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is…a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”

Basically, the index determines how easy it is to get a mortgage. The higher the index, the more available the mortgage credit.

This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor | Keeping Current Matters

Here is a graph of the MCAI dating back to 2004, when the data first became available:As we can see, the index stood at about 400 in 2004. Mortgage credit became more available as the housing market heated up, and then the index passed 850 in 2006. When the real estate market crashed, so did the MCAI (to below 100), as mortgage money became almost impossible to secure.

Thankfully, lending standards have eased since. The index, however, is still below 200, which is half of what it was before things got out of control.

Bottom Line

It is easier to get a mortgage today than it was immediately after the market crash, but it is still difficult. The difference in 2006? At that time, it was difficult not to get a mortgage.

Buyers are out in full force this fall, increasing the demand for homebuying in all four regions of the country.

According to the latest ShowingTime Showing Index,

“Home showing activity was up again nationwide with a 4.6 percent rise in traffic, as the traditionally slow fall season began with a marked boost in buyer interest.”

Buyers clearly have the right idea, as mortgage rates have dropped over a full percentage point since the fall of 2018. They’ve hovered in a historically low range since this summer, making the overall cost of homeownership significantly more attractive and affordable.

Here’s the breakdown of how ShowingTime reports current buyer traffic patterns across the country:

“The West Region, which until August had experienced 18 consecutive months of flagging home buyer traffic, lead the four regions in year-over-year improvement with an 8.9 percent increase in buyer activity.

The South followed with a 6.4 percent increase, the largest such improvement in the region since April 2018, with the Northeast Region’s 5.6 percent increase the next largest among the four regions.

The Midwest’s more modest 0.8 percent year-over-year growth rounded out the nation’s promising month.”

Buyer Demand Growing in Every Region | Keeping Current Matters

With ShowingTime reporting “nationwide growth for the second consecutive month, a first since December 2017 – January 2018”, it’s one more reason why selling your house this winter is the way to go. List while buyers are on the market, before competition with other sellers pops up in your neighborhood.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of waiting until spring to sell, think again! Reach out to a local real estate professional to discuss listing your house now while buyer traffic is actively surging throughout the country.

In the third quarter of 2019, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling another strong indicator of the current housing market.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced,

“The homeownership rate of 64.8 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the third quarter 2018 (64.4 percent), but was 0.7 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent).”

Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise | Keeping Current Matters

Today there is still a lack of inventory, particularly at the entry and middle-level segments of the market, but that is not stopping buyers from making every effort to pursue homeownership. The many financial and non-financial benefits continue to drive the American Dream and will likely do so for generations to come.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, contact a local real estate professional to make your dream a reality.

A mother and her son are hugging in their living room. The mother is wearing a military uniform.

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:

  • Nearly 24 million home loans have been guaranteed by the Veterans Administration.
  • Nearly 82% of VA home loans are made with no down payment.
  • The VA also provides grants to help seriously disabled Veterans purchase, modify, or construct a home to meet their needs. Last year the VA provided 2,000 grants totaling $104 million.

Benefits of a VA Home Loan:

  1. No down payment
  2. No Private Mortgage Insurance*
  3. Lower credit score requirements
  4. Limitation on closing costs
  5. Lower average interest rates

*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, contact a local real estate professional who can help you through the process. Thank you for your service!

VA Home Loans by the Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • The Veterans Administration (VA) Home Loan is a benefit that is available to more than 22 million veterans and 2 million active duty service members to help them achieve the dream of homeownership.
  • In 2018, $161 billion was loaned to veterans and their families through the program.
  • In the same year, the average loan amount was $264,197 and 610,513 loans were guaranteed.
selling home and shopping,money

Home buying activity (demand) is up, and the number of available listings (supply) is down. When demand outpaces supply, prices appreciate. That’s why firms are beginning to increase their projections for home price appreciation going forward. As an example, CoreLogic increased their 12-month projection for home values from 4.5% to 5.6% over the last few months.

The reacceleration of home values will cause some to again voice concerns about affordability. Just last week, however, First American came out with a data analysis that explains how price is not the only market factor that impacts affordability. They studied prices, mortgage rates, and wages from January through August of this year. Here are their findings:

Home Prices

“In January 2019, a family with the median household income in the U.S. could afford to buy a $373,900 house. By August, that home had appreciated to $395,000, an increase of $21,100.”

Mortgage Interest Rates

“The 0.85 percentage point drop in mortgage rates from January 2019 through August 2019 increased affordability by 9.7%. That translates to a $40,200 improvement in house-buying power in just eight months.”

Wage Growth

“As rates have fallen in 2019, the economy has continued to perform well also, resulting in a tight labor market and wage growth. Wage growth pushes household incomes upward, which were 1.5% higher in August compared with January. The growth in household income increased consumer house-buying power by 1.5%, pushing house-buying power up an additional $5,600.”

Forget the Price of the Home. The Cost is What Matters. | Keeping Current Matters

When all three market factors are combined, purchasing power increased by $24,500, thus making home buying more affordable, not less affordable. Here is a table that simply shows the data:

Bottom Line

In the article, Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained it best:

“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.”

A Millennial Japanese Woman Depositing Checks with Mobile

Millennials have waited longer than any other generation to become homeowners, but the wait for this cohort is just about over. According to National Mortgage News,

“Millennials, those young adults now aged 23 to 38, are now entering their peak household formation and homebuying years.

If you’re a Millennial, you’re already well aware that you’re among a generation of those who favor fast-paced, real-time answers – and results. When you’re ready to make a decision, it’s go-time, and you probably want the latest technology at your fingertips to make it happen.

National Mortgage News agrees, stating,

“Millennials are different than previous generations—not only in their delayed homebuying but also in how they approach interactions with financial institutions, including mortgage lenders. Taking a picture of a check on their phone and depositing it without visiting a branch is not novel, it’s the way Millennials learned to do banking. They expect real-time access to account and transaction data and are frustrated when it’s not available.”

Here’s the catch – the overall speed of the homebuying process can take some time, and it might feel like it is slowing you down. When you’re ready to buy, you can make an offer and go under contract quickly, but the rest of the process might take a little longer. The same article explains why:

“When Millennials apply for a loan, the mortgage lender must qualify the borrower and determine who owns the property, how much the property is worth, and the property’s risk profile. Traditionally, this has been one of the most time-consuming and fragmented parts of the mortgage process…There are many moving pieces, each data point being sourced from a different provider, which can ultimately lead to a lengthy or delayed process.

What has historically been accepted as the process norm does not align with the expectations of the most prominent generation in the home buying market today. Millennials have come to expect rapid, digital workflows in their daily purchase decisions, and in their mind, the home buying process shouldn’t be any different.”

So, where do you go from here?

If you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, that will help speed things up. But the steps it takes and the time to finalize a loan with most traditional lenders may feel like an eternity to you and your generational peers. Don’t worry, though – it’s well worth the wait when you finally get the keys to your new castle!

The financial benefits of homeownership, like increasing your net worth by building equity, and the non-financial benefits, like being able to customize and improve your space, will ultimately set you on the course to happiness, success, overall satisfaction, and much, much more.

Bottom Line

If you’re feeling like it’s go-time, reach out to a local real estate professional and get the process moving to determine if homeownership is your next best step.

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