Turning a House into a Happy Home

Turning a House into a Happy Home | Simplifying The Market

We talk a lot about why it makes financial sense to buy a home, but more often than not, we’re drawn to the emotional reasons for homeownership.

No matter the living space, the feeling of a home means different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the feel-good connections to our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones. Here are some of the reasons why.

1. Owning your home is an accomplishment worth celebrating

You’ve likely worked very hard to achieve this dream, and whether it’s your first home or your fifth, congratulations are in order for this milestone. You’ve earned it.

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers not only safety and security but also a comfortable place where you can simply relax and kick-back after a long day. Sometimes, that’s just what we need to feel recharged and truly content.

3. You can find more space to meet your needs

Whether you want more room in your home for your changing lifestyle (think: working from home, virtual school, or a personal gym), or you simply prefer to have a large backyard for socially-distant entertaining, you can invest in a location that truly works for your evolving needs.

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and your style

Looking to try one of those complicated wall treatments you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Maybe you want to finally adopt that fur-baby puppy or kitten you’ve been hoping for. You can do all of these things in your own home.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that turn a house into a happy home.

Turning a House into a Happy Home
Turning a House into a Happy Home

Did You Outgrow Your Home in 2020?

Did You Outgrow Your Home in 2020? | Simplifying The Market

It may seem hard to imagine that the home you’re in today – whether it’s your starter home or just one you’ve fallen in love with along the way – might not be your forever home.

Many needs have changed in 2020, and it’s okay to admit if your house no longer fits your lifestyle. If you’re now working remotely, facilitating virtual school, trying to exercise at home, or simply just spending more time in your own four walls, you may be bursting at the seams in your current house.

According to the latest Home Price Insights from CoreLogic, prices have appreciated 7.3% year-over-year. At the same time, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that inventory has dropped 22% from one year ago.Did You Outgrow Your Home in 2020? | Simplifying The MarketThese two statistics are directly related to one another. As inventory has decreased and demand has increased, prices have been driven up.

This is great news if you own a home and you’re thinking about selling. The equity in your house has likely risen as prices have increased. Even better is the fact that there’s a large pool of buyers out there searching for the American dream, and your home may be high on their wish list.

Bottom Line

If you think you’ve outgrown your current home, let’s connect to discuss local market conditions and determine if now is the best time for you to sell.

Did You Outgrow Your Home in 2020?
Did You Outgrow Your Home in 2020?

The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership

The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

Over the past year, mortgage rates have fallen more than a full percentage point, hitting a new historic low 15 times. This is a great driver for homeownership, as today’s low rates provide consumers with some significant benefits. Here’s a look at three of them.

1. Move-up or Downsize: One option is to consider moving into a new home, putting the equity you’ve likely gained in your current house toward a down payment on a new one that better meets your needs – something that’s truly a perfect fit, especially if your lifestyle has changed this year.

2. Become a First-Time Homebuyer: There are many financial and non-financial benefits to owning a home, and the most important thing is to first decide when the time is right for you. You have to determine that on your own, but know that now is a great time to buy if you’re considering it. Just take a look at the cost of renting vs. buying.

3. Refinance: If you already own a home, you may decide you’re going to refinance. It’s one way to lock in a lower monthly payment and save more over time. However, it also means paying upfront closing costs, too. If you want to take this route, you have to answer the question: Should I refinance my home?

Why 2020 Was a Great Year for Homeownership

Last year, the average mortgage rate was 3.93% (substantially higher than it is today). If you waited for a better time to make a move, market conditions have improved significantly. Today’s low mortgage rates are a huge perk for buyers, so it’s a great time to get more for your money and consider a new home.

The chart below shows how much you would save per month based on today’s rates compared to what you would have paid if you purchased a home exactly one year ago, depending on how much you finance:The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you’ve been waiting since last year to make your move into homeownership or to find a house that better meets your needs, today’s low mortgage rates may be just what you need to get the process going. Let’s connect today to discuss how you may benefit from the current rates.

The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership
The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership

The Do’s and Don’ts after Applying for a Mortgage

The Do’s and Don’ts after Applying for a Mortgage | Simplifying The Market

Once you’ve found the right home and applied for a mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. You’re undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new place, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any major life changes, consult your lender – someone who is qualified to tell you how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.

Below is a list of things you shouldn’t do after applying for a mortgage. They’re all important to know – or simply just good reminders – for the process.

1. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts Before Speaking with Your Bank or Lender. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

2. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios. Higher ratios make for riskier loans, and then sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

3. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone. When you co-sign, you’re obligated. With that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

4. Don’t Change Bank Accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is significantly easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.

5. Don’t Apply for New Credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be impacted. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

6. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts. Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants of your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. The best plan is to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.

The Do’s and Don’ts after Applying for a Mortgage
The Do’s and Don’ts after Applying for a Mortgage

2021 Housing Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC]

2021 Housing Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

2021 Housing Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Experts project an optimistic year for the 2021 housing market.
  • With mortgage rates forecasted to remain low, high buyer demand is expected to fuel more home sales and continue to increase home prices.
  • Let’s connect today to determine how to make your best move in the new year.

2021 Housing Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC]
2021 Housing Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC]

Homeowner Equity Increases an Astonishing $1 Trillion

Homeowner Equity Increases an Astonishing $1 Trillion | Simplifying The Market

In a year that was financially devastating for many Americans, some good news for most homeowners is the dramatic gain in home equity over the last twelve months. Last week, CoreLogic released its 2020 3rd Quarter Homeowner Equity Insights report, which reveals four major findings:

  1. S. homeowners with mortgages have seen their equity increase by a total of $1 trillion since the third quarter of 2019.
  2. The average homeowner gained approximately $17,000 in equity over the past year.
  3. This is a 10.8% increase in equity over last year.
  4. The average household with a mortgage now has $194,000 in home equity.

This has given many homeowners the ability to redesign their homes to meet their changing needs. Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains in the report:

“The housing market has remained a strong pillar in an otherwise tumultuous economic year. A sharp rise in demand, spurred by record-low interest rates, continues to bolster homeowner equity. And with many people now spending more time than ever before at home, some homeowners have tapped into their strengthening equity to fund renovations.”

This build-up in equity also gives more options to homeowners who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Today, homeowners with substantial equity are in a much better position to work out a deal with their lender if they cannot pay their mortgage. Alternatively, they also have the power to sell and walk away with their equity in the form of cash or as a down payment toward a more affordable house. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, addresses the issue in the report:

“Over the past year, strong home price growth has created a record level of home equity for homeowners…This provides an important buffer to protect families if they experience financial difficulties and is one reason for the generational-low in foreclosure rates reported.”

Here’s a map showing equity gains by state:Homeowner Equity Increases an Astonishing $1 Trillion | Simplifying The MarketThis gain in home equity is a blessing for homeowners in these trying times, and it seems that the next two years will continue to reward those who own a home.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) held their 2020 Real Estate Forecast Summit. At the summit, they shared the results of a recent survey of 23 economic and housing market experts. The median forecast among the experts called for home values to increase further by 8% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022.

Bottom Line

In a year that has many of us reevaluating what “home” really means, those who own their homes have been rewarded with a financial windfall that averages $17,000 individually and totals $1 trillion nationally.

Homeowner Equity Increases an Astonishing Trillion
Homeowner Equity Increases an Astonishing Trillion

3 Reasons to Be Optimistic about Real Estate in 2021

3 Reasons to Be Optimistic about Real Estate in 2021 | Simplifying The Market

This year will be remembered for many reasons, and optimism is one thing that’s been in short supply since the spring. We’re experiencing a global pandemic, social unrest, an economic downturn, and natural disasters, just to name a few. The challenges brought on by the health crisis have also forced many homeowners to reevaluate their space and what they need in a home going into 2021. So, experts are forecasting that next year is one in which we can be optimistic about real estate for three key reasons.

1. The Economy Is Expected to Continue Improving

Tim Duy from the University of Oregon puts it this way:

“There is nothing fundamentally ‘broken’ in the economy that needs to heal…there was no obvious financial bubble driving excessive activity in any one economic sector when the pandemic hit…With Covid-19 cases surging again, it is understandably hard to look optimistically to the other side of this winter…Don’t let the near-term challenges distract from the economic stage being set for next four years.”

2. Interest Rates Are Projected to Stay Low

In the latest projections from Freddie Mac, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are expected to remain at or near 3% next year. These low rates will continue to make homes more affordable, driving demand for housing in 2021.3 Reasons to Be Optimistic about Real Estate in 2021 | Simplifying The Market

3. Future Home Sales Are Forecasted to Grow

While the economy improves and interest rates remain low, homes are also expected to continue appreciating as more people buy in the coming year. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says:

“We expect home sales in 2021 to come in 7.0% above 2020 levels, following a more normal seasonal trend and building momentum through the spring and sustaining the pace in the second half of the year.”

Bottom Line

Experts forecast that buyers and sellers are going to be active in 2021. If you’ve thought about buying or selling your home this year but have held off, now may be the time to take advantage of this market. Let’s connect to take the first step toward your new home today.

3 Reasons to Be Optimistic about Real Estate in 2021
3 Reasons to Be Optimistic about Real Estate in 2021

The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year

The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year | Simplifying The Market

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, yet finding the perfect holiday gifts for friends and family is certainly still top of mind for many right now. This year, there’s another type of buyer that’s very active this holiday season – the homebuyer.

Each month, ShowingTime releases their Showing Index which tracks the average number of appointments received on active U.S. house listings. The most recent index notes:

“The Showing Index reported a 60.9 percent jump in nationwide showing traffic year over year in October, the sixth consecutive month to see an increase over last year.”

Here’s the breakdown of the latest activity by region of the country compared to this time last year:

  • The Northeast increased by 65.5%
  • The West increased by 64.7%
  • The Midwest increased by 55.7%
  • The South increased by 54.7%

Why is the traffic so active?

The health crisis definitely put homebuying plans on pause for many earlier this year. Buyers, however, are in the market and making moves well past the typical busy homebuying seasons of spring and summer.

One of the main reasons buyer traffic has continued to soar in the second half of 2020 is how dramatically mortgage rates have fallen. According to Freddie Mac, the average mortgage rate last December was 3.72%. Today, the rate is a full percentage point lower.

Bottom Line

There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your house in 2021, you don’t need to wait until the spring to do it. Your potential buyer is very likely searching for a home in your neighborhood right now.

The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year
The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year

5 Steps to Follow When Applying for Forbearance

5 Steps to Follow When Applying for Forbearance | Simplifying The Market

If you’re currently feeling the stress of affording your mortgage payment, or if you know someone who is, there’s still time to get help. For homeowners experiencing financial hardship this year, the CARES Act provides mortgage payment deferral options, creating much-needed relief in these challenging times.

It’s important, however, to understand how forbearance works. It’s not automatic. You need to take action now and apply for the program before these options expire.

A study by the Urban Institute determined:

Approximately 400,000 homeowners who became delinquent after the pandemic began have forgone forbearance and become delinquent. These borrowers may not know they are eligible for forbearance.”

Thankfully, there’s still time to apply for forbearance, even if you’re just learning about it now. Doing so may be the game-changer you need to stay in your home, just when you need it most. Mike Fratantoni, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explained:

“The increase in new forbearance requests may be the result of additional outreach to homeowners who had previously not taken advantage of forbearance opportunities.”

If you need to apply for forbearance but aren’t sure how to begin the process, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published 5 steps to follow when requesting mortgage forbearance:

1. Find the contact information for your servicer

Look at your mortgage statement to find the phone number for your servicer (the company you send your mortgage payment to every month). The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau encourages you to use the number on your statement to avoid scams.

2. Call your servicer

Explain your situation so your servicer can determine your best course of action. Be sure to ask any questions you have about the process.

3. Ask if you’re eligible for protection under the CARES Act

The CARES Act protects homeowners with federally backed loans (FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac). In addition, some private servicers are also providing forbearance programs.

4. Ask what happens when your forbearance period ends

Depending on the plan available to you, there are different options you may be able to consider. Your servicer will help you get a better understanding of what’s available.

The CFPB also recommends asking questions like:

  • What happens to the payments I miss?
  • What are my repayment options?
  • When will repayment be due?
  • Are there any fees?

5. Ask your servicer to provide the agreement in writing

A written agreement allows you to see exactly what type of program you’re agreeing to. It also helps you make sure it matches what you discuss with your provider over the phone.

Bottom Line

Help is out there for homeowners in need, but it’s important to apply now while this benefit is still available. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says: don’t wait, forbearance is not automatic. It must be requested. Reach out to your mortgage provider today so you can get the assistance you need to protect the hard-earned investment you’ve made in your home.

5 Steps to Follow When Applying for Forbearance
5 Steps to Follow When Applying for Forbearance

Winning as a Buyer in a Sellers’ Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

Winning as a Buyer in a Sellers’ Market [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Winning as a Buyer in a Sellers’ Market [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Buying a home in today’s sellers’ market doesn’t have to feel like an uphill battle.
  • Here are four ways to make sure you’re positioned for success when making a home purchase, even when the scale tips toward sellers.
  • Let’s connect to make sure you’re armed for victory in the housing market this season.

Winning as a Buyer in a Sellers’ Market [INFOGRAPHIC]
Winning as a Buyer in a Sellers’ Market [INFOGRAPHIC]