Three Reasons Why Pre-Approval Is the First Step in the 2020 Homebuying Journey

Three Reasons Why Pre-Approval Is the First Step in the 2020 Homebuying Journey | Simplifying The Market

When the number of buyers in the housing market outnumbers the number of homes for sale, it’s called a “seller’s market.” The advantage tips toward the seller as low inventory heats up the competition among those searching for a place to call their own. This can create multiple offer scenarios and bidding wars, making it tough for buyers to land their dream homes – unless they stand out from the crowd. Here are three reasons why pre-approval should be your first step in the homebuying process.

1. Gain a Competitive Advantage

Low inventory, like we have today, means homebuyers need every advantage they can get to make a strong impression and close the deal. One of the best ways to get one step ahead of other buyers is to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you make an offer. For one, it shows the sellers you’re serious about buying a home, which is always a plus in your corner.

2. Accelerate the Homebuying Process

Pre-approval can also speed up the homebuying process, so you can move faster when you’re ready to make an offer. In a competitive arena like we have today, being ready to put your best foot forward when the time comes may be the leg-up you need to cross the finish line first and land the home of your dreams.

3. Know What You Can Borrow and Afford

Here’s the other thing: if you’re pre-approved, you also have a better sense of your budget, what you can afford, and ultimately how much you’re eligible to borrow for your mortgage. This way, you’re less apt to fall in love with a home that may be out of your reach.

Freddie Mac sets 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.”

Local real estate professionals also have relationships with lenders who can help you through this process, so partnering with a trusted advisor will be key for that introduction. Once you select a lender, you’ll 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 also describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you’ll 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

While there are still many additional steps you’ll need to take in the homebuying process, it’s clear why pre-approval is always the best place to begin. It’s your chance to gain the competitive edge you may need if you’re serious about owning a home.

Bottom Line

Getting started with pre-approval is a great way to begin the homebuying journey. Let’s get together today to make sure you’re on the fastest path to homeownership.

Three Reasons Why Pre-Approval Is the First Step in the 2020 Homebuying Journey
Three Reasons Why Pre-Approval Is the First Step in the 2020 Homebuying Journey

3 Expert Insights On Inventory In The Current Market

Lack of Inventory Is Holding Down the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

The current housing landscape presents greater home values, low interest rates, and high buyer demand. All of these factors point to the strong market forecasted to continue throughout the rest of the year.

There is, however, one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: an overall lack of housing inventory. Buyer demand naturally increases during the summer months, but the current supply is not keeping up.

Here is a look at what a few industry experts have to say:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at National Association of Realtors

“Imbalance persists for mid-to-lower priced homes with solid demand and insufficient supply, which is consequently pushing up home prices.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American

“Market conditions are ripe for increasing home sales with one glaring exception. The supply of homes for sale remains tight, keeping existing home sales below potential.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist of Realtor.com

“We’re not seeing as many new listings come up on the market…It was only 18 months ago that the number of homes for sale hit its lowest level in recorded history and sparked the fiercest competition among buyers we’ve ever seen.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong during a period when there is very little competition, ideally leading to a quick sale and a great return on your investment.

3 Expert Insights On Inventory In The Current Market
3 Expert Insights On Inventory In The Current Market

Home Prices Up 5.05% Across the Country [INFOGRAPHIC]

Home Prices up 5.05% Across the Country! [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Home Prices Up 5.05% Across the Country [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

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!

Home Prices Up 5.05% Across the Country [INFOGRAPHIC]
Home Prices Up 5.05% Across the Country [INFOGRAPHIC]

3 Powerful Reasons to Buy a Home Now

3 Powerful Reasons to Buy a Home Now | Simplifying The Market

Whether you are a first-time buyer or looking to move up to the home of your dreams, now is a great time to purchase a home. Here are three major reasons to buy today.

1. Affordability

Many people focus solely on price when talking about home affordability. Since home prices have appreciated throughout the past year, they assume homes are less affordable. However, affordability is determined by three components:

  • Price
  • Wages
  • Mortgage Interest Rate

Prices are up, but so are wages – and interest rates have recently dropped dramatically (see #2 below). As a result, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Affordability Index report revealed that homes are MORE affordable throughout the country today than they were a year ago.

“All four regions saw an increase in affordability from a year ago. The South had the biggest gain in affordability of 6.9%, followed by the West with a gain of 6.0%. The Midwest had an increase of 5.8%, followed by the Northeast with the smallest gain of 1.8%.”

2. Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage rates have dropped almost a full point after heading toward 5% last fall and early winter. Currently, they are below 4%.3 Powerful Reasons to Buy a Home Now | Simplifying The MarketAdditionally, Fannie Mae recently predicted the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will be 3.7% in the second half of 2019. That compares to a 4.4% average rate in the first quarter and 4% in the second quarter.

With mortgage rates remaining near historic lows, Fannie Mae and others have increased their forecasts for housing appreciation for the rest of the year. If home price gains are about to re-accelerate, buying now rather than later makes financial sense.

3. Increase Family Wealth

Homeownership has always been recognized as a sensational way to build long-term family wealth. A new report by ATTOM Data Solutions reveals:

“U.S. homeowners who sold in the second quarter of 2019 realized an average home price gain since purchase of $67,500, up from an average gain of $57,706 in Q1 2019 and up from an average gain of $60,100 in Q2 2018. The average home seller gain of $67,500 in Q2 2019 represented an average 33.9 percent return as a percentage of original purchase price.”

The longer you delay purchasing a home, the longer you are waiting to put the power of home equity to work for you.

Bottom Line

With affordability increasing, mortgage rates decreasing, and home values about to re-accelerate, it may be time to make a move. Let’s get together to determine if buying now makes sense for your family.

3 Powerful Reasons to Buy a Home Now
3 Powerful Reasons to Buy a Home Now

Mid-Year Housing Market Update: Three Things to Know Today

Mid-Year Housing Market Update: Three Things to Know Today | Simplifying The Market

Shifting trends and industry-leading research are pointing toward some valuable projections about the status of the housing market for the rest of the year.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or if you just want to know what experts are saying is on the horizon, here are the top three things to put on your radar as we head into the coming months:

  1. Home prices are appreciating at a more normal rate: Home prices have been appreciating for about ten years now. Experts at the Home Price Expectation Survey, Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae are forecasting continued growth throughout the next year, although it should be leveling-off to normal appreciation (3.6%), as we move into 2020.
  2. Interest rates are low: Over the past 30 years, the average mortgage rate in the United States has been 8.27%, and rates even peaked as high as 18% in the 1980s. Today, at 81%, the rate is considerably lower than the historical 30-year average. Although experts predict it may climb into the low 4% range in the near future, that’s still remarkably lower than our running average, suggesting a great time to get more for your money over the life of your loan.
  3. An impending recession does not mean there will be a housing crash: Although expert research studies such as those found in the Duke Survey of American CFOs and the National Association of Business Economics, are pointing toward a recession beginning within the next 18 months, a potential recession isn’t expected to be driven by the housing industry. That means we likely won’t experience a devastating housing crash like the country felt in 2008. Expert financial analyst Morgan Housel tweeted:

“An interesting thing is the widespread assumption that the next recession will be as bad as 2008. Natural to think that way, but, statistically, highly unlikely. Could be over before you realized it began.”

In fact, during 3 of the 5 last U.S. recessions, housing prices actually appreciated:Mid-Year Housing Market Update: Three Things to Know Today | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

With prices appreciating and low interest rates available, it’s a perfect time to buy or sell a home. Let’s get together to discuss how you can take the next step in the exciting journey of homeownership.

Mid-Year Housing Market Update: Three Things to Know Today
Mid-Year Housing Market Update: Three Things to Know Today

What Experts are Saying About the Current Housing Market

What Experts are Saying About the Current Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

We’re halfway through the year, and with a decline in interest rates as well as home price and wage appreciation, many are wondering what the experts predict for the second half of 2019.

Here’s what some have to say:

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com

“Lower mortgage rates, higher wages and more homes for sale have helped counteract rising home prices, and ultimately, made it so that buyers are able to afford more than last year.”

“Our outlook implies 4% growth for the remaining months of the year, predicated on…more supply than last year, the decline in mortgage rates, moderating home price appreciation and improving affordability.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR

“Rates of 4% and, in some cases even lower, create extremely attractive conditions for consumers. Buyers, for good reason, are anxious to purchase and lock in at these rates.”

Doug Duncan, Chief Economist for Fannie Mae

“Moderating home price appreciation and attractive mortgage rates continue to support affordability, particularly as home builders are now paying more attention to the entry-level portion of the housing market.”

Kaycee Miller in a Realtor Magazine article

“At the moment, some observers suggest the housing market is indeed headed for a slowdown. But no need to panic — experts say the financial and economic factors that were in play during the big crash a decade ago don’t exist today.”

Bottom Line

The housing market will be stronger for the rest of 2019. If you’d like to know more about your specific market, let’s get together to chat about what’s happening in our area.

What Experts are Saying About the Current Housing Market
What Experts are Saying About the Current Housing Market

Is Renting Right for Me?

Is Renting Right for Me? | Simplifying The Market

If you’re currently renting and have dreams of owning your own home, it may be a good time to think about your next move. With rent costs rising annually and many helpful down payment assistance programs available, homeownership may be closer than you realize.

According to the 2018 Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report, 74% of renters plan on buying within the next 5 years, and 38% are planning to buy within the next 2 years.

When those same renters were asked why they disliked renting, 52% said rising rental costs were their top reason, and 42% of renters believe their rent will rise every year. The full results of the survey can be seen below:Is Renting Right for Me? | Simplifying The MarketIt’s no wonder rising rental costs came in as the top answer. The median asking rent price has risen steadily over the last 30 years, as you can see below.Is Renting Right for Me? | Simplifying The MarketThere is a long-standing rule that a household should not spend more than 28% of its income on housing expenses. With nearly half of renters (48%) surveyed already spending more than that, and with their rents likely to rise again, it’s never a bad idea to reconsider your family’s plan and ask yourself if renting is your best angle going forward. When asked why they haven’t purchased a home yet, not having enough saved for a down payment (44%) came in as the top response. The report went on to reveal that nearly half of all respondents believe that “a 20% down payment is required to buy a home.”

The reality is, the need to produce a 20% down payment is one of the biggest misconceptions of homeownership, especially for first-time buyers. That means a large number of renters may be able to buy now, and they don’t even know it.

Bottom Line

If you’re one of the many renters who are tired of rising rents but may be confused about what is required to buy in today’s market, let’s get together to determine your path to homeownership.

Is Renting Right for Me?
Is Renting Right for Me?

The Surprising Profile of the Real Estate Investor

The Surprising Profile of the Real Estate Investor | Simplifying The Market

Over 10% of all residential homes are purchased by investors, and that number continues to rise. Who are these investors?

Many have speculated that the large institutional conglomerates such as Blackstone, American Homes 4 Rent, and Colony Starwood dominate investor purchases. However, a special report on investor home buying by CoreLogic, Don’t Call it a Comeback: Housing Investors Have Been Here for Years, shows this is not the case.

Ralph McLaughlin, CoreLogic’s Deputy Chief Economist and author of the report, explained his findings at the recent National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Austin:

“Investor buying activity in the U.S. is at record highs. And our records go back confidently, about 20 years…

What’s going on and why? Well, it turns out, it’s not the big institutional guys that are leading the increase in home buying. It’s actually the smaller guys. It’s those that have bought between one and ten properties over this 20-year period, they’re the ones that are really leading the increase in investor home buying.”

Here is the breakdown of the percentage of purchasers by type of investor over the last six years according to the report:The Surprising Profile of the Real Estate Investor | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph shows, the percentage of “Mom & Pop” investors is currently dominating the number of homes purchased by investors, as the percentage of homes purchased by both professional and institutional investors is falling.

Bottom Line

Most houses purchased by an investor are bought by small investors looking to diversify their financial portfolio by adding a real estate component. If you are investing in real estate as either a landlord or someone who fixes-up and flips the house, let’s chat about the ways you can build or liquidate your current portfolio of properties.

The Surprising Profile of the Real Estate Investor
The Surprising Profile of the Real Estate Investor

What a Difference a Year Makes for Sellers

What a Difference a Year Makes for Sellers | Simplifying The Market

Over the last few years, many sellers have been hesitant to put their houses on the market because they feared not being able to find another home to buy.

We’ve reported on inventory shortages in the past, and it’s been a constant concern for potential buyers throughout recent years. New research shows the inventory concern is starting to decrease among potential buyers.

According to First American, the two leading obstacles to homeownership that buyers feel today are Affordability and Limited Inventory. This means the feeling that homes are less affordable has risen, while the fear of limited inventory has decreased, delivering a wealth of good news for sellers.What a Difference a Year Makes for Sellers | Simplifying The MarketAt the same time, over the past 12 months, we’ve seen a steady month-over-month increase in the number of homes coming to market for purchase. In the past, the lack of listings and available inventory slowed down the real estate market. This recent increase in current inventory has many buyers and sellers now thinking it is time to make their move – and rightfully so! For the last two months, we’ve seen over 4 months of inventory become available for sale, a promising number that’s been slowly increasing this year and creating more buying opportunities.What a Difference a Year Makes for Sellers | Simplifying The MarketTo further support the idea of an improving real estate market, Sam Khater, the Chief Economist at Freddie Mac says,

“…In the near-term, we expect the housing market to continue to improve from both a sales and price perspective.” 

Many experts, like Sam, believe the second half of 2019 will drive a stronger market than we saw at the beginning of the year. This is great news for homeowners who have put off getting their houses on the market and are now ready to make a move.

Bottom Line

What a difference we’ve seen over the course of this year! If you’re thinking of selling, now is the time as inventory is on the rise.

What a Difference a Year Makes for Sellers
What a Difference a Year Makes for Sellers

Should I Refinance My Home?

Should I Refinance My Home? | Simplifying The Market

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:

  1. Lower your interest rate and payment – This is the most popular reason. If you have a 5% interest rate or higher, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower interest rates, hovering below 4%, to reduce your monthly payment and overall cost of the loan.
  2. Shorten the term of your loan – If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner.
  3. Cash-out refinance – With home prices increasing, you might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a vacation home, or a new business.

Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:

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.

Should I Refinance My Home?
Should I Refinance My Home?