In today’s real estate market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.
In a realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search
One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.
This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!
2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’
Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?
Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.
3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In
Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”
4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It
Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.
An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”
5. Document Your Home Visits
Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.
Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.
In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.
So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call ‘home,’ and you’ve finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!
1. Determine Your Price
“You’ve found the perfect home and you’re ready to buy. Now what? Your real estate agent will be by your side, helping you determine an offer price that is fair.”
Based on your agent’s experience and key considerations (like similar homes recently sold in the same neighborhood or the condition of the house and what you can afford), your agent will help you to determine the offer that you are going to present.
Getting pre-approved will not only show home-sellers that you are serious about buying, but it will also allow you to make your offer with confidence because you’ll know that you have already been approved for a mortgage in that amount.
2. Submit an Offer
“Once you’ve determined your price, your agent will draw up an offer, or purchase agreement, to submit to the seller’s real estate agent. This offer will include the purchase price and terms and conditions of the purchase.”
Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways in which you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market! A licensed real estate agent who is active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer.
3. Negotiate the Offer
“Oftentimes, the seller will counter the offer, typically asking for a higher purchase price or to adjust the closing date. In these cases, the seller’s agent will submit a counteroffer to your agent, detailing their desired changes, at this time, you can either accept the offer or decide if you want to counter.
Each time changes are made through a counteroffer, you or the seller have the option to accept, reject or counter it again. The contract is considered final when both parties sign the written offer.”
If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller or even cancel the contract altogether.
4. Act Fast
The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.
Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as quickly as possible.
Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional who is an expert in his or her market on your side is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Let’s talk about how we can make your dream of homeownership a reality!
Historically, the choice between renting or 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 becomes obvious.
Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!
In a recent Insights Blog, CoreLogic reported that rent prices have skyrocketed since 2005. Meanwhile, the typical mortgage payment has actually decreased.
“CoreLogic’s national rent index was up 36% in December 2018 compared with December 2005, while the typical mortgage payment was down 4% over that period.”
Why the difference between the costs of renting versus owning?
It makes sense that rents have risen. However, how did mortgage payments decrease? CoreLogic explained:
“It’s mainly because mortgage rates back in December 2005 were significantly higher, averaging 6.3% for a fixed-rate 30-year loan, compared with 4.6% in December 2018.
The national median sale price in December 2005 – $190,000 – was lower than the $220,305 median in December 2018, but because of higher mortgage rates in 2005 the typical monthly mortgage payment was slightly higher back then – $941 – compared with $904 in December 2018.”
Additionally, a recent report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that purchasing a home requires less of your monthly paycheck.
According to the Economists’ Outlook Blog, NAR’s February 2019 Housing Affordability Index showed that the “percentage of income needed” to pay the typical mortgage has decreased the last three months.
November – 17.3%
December – 16.9%
January – 16.2%
February – 15.9%
What does this all mean to the current housing market? We think First American said it best in a post last week:
“The mortgage rate-driven affordability surge has arrived just in time… Rising affordability has already benefited home buyers and, if the lower rate environment persists, we’re in for a great spring home-buying season.”
Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You are undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home! But before you make any big purchases, move any money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer. They will be able to tell you how your decision will impact your home loan.
Below is a list of 7 Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage! Some may seem obvious, but some may not!
1. Don’t change jobs or the way you are paid at your job! Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.
2. Don’t deposit cash into your bank accounts. Lenders need to source your money and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.
3. Don’t make any large purchases like a new car or new furniture for your new home. New debt comes with it, including 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 sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.
4. Don’t co-sign other loans for anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payment against you.
5. Don’t change bank accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer money between accounts, talk to your loan officer.
6. 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 affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.
7. Don’t close any credit accounts. Many clients have erroneously believed that 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 those determinants of your score.
Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process.
In a strong seller’s market, like the one we have experienced over the past few years, bidding wars are common and expected. This makes sense! A seller’s market is defined as a market in which the inventory of homes for sale cannot satisfy the number of buyers who want to purchase a home.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, bidding wars occur when two or more parties repeatedly outbid each other as they compete to purchase something- in this case, a home.
In some areas of the country, first-time buyers have been met with fierce competition throughout their experience. Some have been out-bid multiple times before finally winning a bid on a home to call their own.
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there is currently a 3.7-month supply of homes for sale.
With the current number of houses listed for sale and the level of demand from buyers, this means it would take 3.7 months for all the homes listed to sell if no additional listings came to market. Any supply number under a 6-month supply is considered a seller’s market. According to NAR, the housing market hasn’t had a 6-month supply of homes for sale since August 2012.
Good News for Buyers
A recent report shows that the percentage of houses sold including a bidding war before settling on a final price decreased from 53% in January of 2018 to 13% this year.
One reason for the decline is an influx of homes being listed for sale. Even though the month’s supply number is not increasing, the number of homes for sale is.
The number of homes for sale has started to build over the last eight months. Prior to this reversal, inventory levels had fallen for 36 consecutive months when compared to the year before.
Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s Chief Economist, gave some insight into why bidding wars are less common on a local level this year,
“[Last year] you might have been the only listing in your neighborhood, and you could put your home up at a certain list price and you would likely see multiple offers at or above that list price. That tide is turning this year. It’s going to depend on what neighborhood you’re in, but we expect it to be more common this year that you won’t be the only listing.”
Inventory in the luxury and premium markets (the top 25% of listings in an area by price), is increasing at a greater rate than the starter home market. As the choices buyers have continued to increase, the likelihood of a bidding war will decrease.
If you are debating listing your house for sale this year, you may not want to wait for additional competition as inventory continues to rise.
Spring has sprung, and it’s a great time to buy a home! Here are four reasons to consider buying today instead of waiting.
1. Prices Will Continue to Rise
CoreLogic’s latest U.S. Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 4.4% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.6% over the next year.
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 fixed rate mortgage came in at 4.41% last week. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting rates will increase 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
Some renters have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.
As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.
Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?
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?
Examine the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, greater safety for your family, or you just want to have control over renovations, now could be 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.
In the majority of the country, this weekend marks the start of Daylight Savings Time as we set our clocks forward an hour on Sunday at 2:00 AM EST.
Whether you plan on buying or selling this spring, these tips could help you ‘spring ahead’ of your competition!
Spring brings two things: more buyers & more sellers! Get prepared now to stand out in the crowd!
Last week, the National Association for Business Economics released their February 2019 Economic Policy Survey. The survey revealed that a majority of the panel believe an economic slowdown is in the near future:
“While only 10% of panelists expect a recession in 2019, 42% say a recession will happen in 2020, and 25% expect one in 2021.”
Their findings coincide with three previous surveys calling for a slowdown sometime in the next two years:
The Pulsenomics Survey of Market Analysts
The Wall Street Journal Survey of Economists
The Duke University Survey of American CFOs
That raises the question: Will the real estate market be impacted like it was during the last recession?
A recession does not equal a housing crisis. According to the dictionary definition, a recession is:
“A period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.”
During the last recession, prices fell dramatically because the housing collapse caused the recession. However, if we look at the previous four recessions, we can see that home values weren’t negatively impacted:
January 1980 to July 1980: Home values rose 4.5%
July 1981 to November 1982: Home values rose 1.9%
July 1990 to March 1991: Home values fell less than 1%
March 2001 to November 2001: Home values rose 4.8%
Most experts agree with Ralph McLaughlin, CoreLogic’s Deputy Chief Economist, who recently explained:
“There’s no reason to panic right now, even if we may be headed for a recession. We’re seeing a cooling of the housing market, but nothing that indicates a crash.”
The housing market is just “normalizing”. Inventory is starting to increase and home prices are finally stabilizing. This is a good thing for both buyers and sellers as we move forward.
If there is an economic slowdown in our near future, there is no need for fear to set in. As renowned financial analyst, Morgan Housel, recently 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.”
According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at their lowest for 2019. Rates like these haven’t been seen since February 2018!
Last week’s survey results reported an interest rate of 4.35%. This is a welcome change from the near 5% rates seen in mid-November. At 4.32%, the second week of February 2018 was the last time rates were this low.
Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, Sam Khater, had this to say:
“Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week, continuing the general downward trend that began late last year.
Wages are growing on par with home prices for the first time in years, and with more inventory available, spring home sales should help the market begin to recover from the malaise of the last few months.”
If you plan on buying a home this spring, meet with a local real estate professional who can help prepare you for today’s market before rates increase!