Singles Are Falling for Their Dream Home First [INFOGRAPHIC]

Singles Are Falling for Their Dream Home First [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Singles Are Falling for Their Dream Home First [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • According to NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the share of recent homebuyers who were single at the time of purchase held steady at 24% last year.
  • The percentage of first-time buyers who were single females rose to 17% (up from 16%), as the share of single men dropped from 11% to 8%.
  • The primary reason for buying a home amongst singles was the desire to own a home of their own (38% for women and 37% for men).

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84% of Americans Believe Buying a Home is a Good Financial Decision

84% of Americans Believe Buying a Home is a Good Financial Decision | Simplifying The Market

According to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey, 84% of Americans now believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. This is the highest percentage since 2007 – before the housing crisis. Those surveyed pointed out five major reasons why they believe homeownership is a good financial decision:

  1. Homeownership means the money you spend on housing goes towards building equity, rather than to a landlord
  2. Homeownership creates the opportunity to pay off a mortgage and own your home by the time you retire
  3. Homeownership is an investment opportunity that builds long-term wealth and increases net worth
  4. Homeownership means a stable and predictable monthly mortgage payment
  5. Homeownership allows for various deductions on federal, state, and local income taxes

The survey also revealed that the majority of Americans strongly agree that homeownership helps create safe, secure, and stable environments.

Bottom Line

Homeownership has always been and still is a crucial part of the American Dream.

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3 Tips to Succeed in Today’s Real Estate Market

3 Tips to Succeed in Today’s Real Estate Market | Simplifying The Market

In today’s highly competitive real estate market, where inventory levels are not keeping up with the constant stream of buyer demand, there are steps you can take to ensure you are most prepared for success when buying a home.

The 3 tips we are going to expand on today come from a recent blog by Trulia entitled, The Skinny on Skinny Inventory. 

1. Be Prepared

“Homebuyers should talk with a lender, real estate agent, and a home inspector BEFORE finding a home to make an offer on.”

Being intentional, pre-approved, and prepared will set you up for the accelerated time tables that come with a highly competitive market. If you are the most prepared buyer interested in a home, if you have already secured financial approval, and if you are ready to move fast, your bid will be that much more attractive to a seller.

2. Think Strategically

“Starter homebuyers don’t have a home to sell and can be flexible on closing dates compared to homebuyers who are also trying to sell at the same time.”

If you are one of the many first-time buyers looking for your dream home, know that being strategic and flexible about closing dates can also help your offer stand out from the rest. But don’t fret if you are a homeowner who will also have to sell your own house first – be upfront about your timeline with your agent and with any offers you make.

3. Seek Out the Ugly Ducklings

“Buyers might consider looking for homes that have been on the market for a while and investigate why. The reasons may be a deal-killer but all it takes is one ugly duckling to turn into a swan.”

Finding a fixer-upper or a home that needs a little love might be your best way to guarantee that you are able to find a home in the neighborhood that you want. The worst house on the best block will go for a steal and offer instant equity once you fix it up!

Bottom Line

In today’s market, full of bidding wars and tough competition, finding ways to stand out from the rest by getting creative will improve your chances of having a home to call your own.

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Thinking of Selling? You Should Act NOW!

Thinking of Selling? You Should Act NOW! | Simplifying The Market

If you thought about selling your house this year, now more than ever may be the time to do it! The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned the concept of supply and demand: the best time to sell something is when supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors, recently commented:

“Buyer interest is solid, but there is just not enough supply to satisfy demand. Prospective buyers are being sidelined by both limited choices and home prices that are climbing too fast.”

Yun goes on to say:

“Current demand levels indicate sales should be stronger, but it’s clear some would-be buyers are having to delay or postpone their home search because low supply is leading to worsening affordability conditions.”

In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction, including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.

Bottom Line

As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas.

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3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your Dream Home

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your Dream Home | Simplifying The Market

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.

Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place? 

This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

For example, a survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say, “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”

This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in May (the latest data available) was $252,800, which is up 5.8% from last year. This increase also marks the 63rd consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

If we look at home prices year over year, CoreLogic is forecasting an increase of 5.3% over the next twelve months. In other words, a home that costs you $250,000 today will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait until next year to buy it.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, with prices increasing each month, it might cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy. 

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), NAR, and Fannie Mae have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below:

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your Dream Home | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

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Home Buying Myths Slayed [INFOGRAPHIC]

Home Buying Myths Slayed [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying the Market

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are still below historic numbers.
  • 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months!
  • The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

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The 5 Greatest Benefits of Homeownership

The 5 Greatest Benefits of Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

Recently, Freddie Mac reported on the benefits of homeownership. According to their report, here are the five benefits that “should be at the top of everyone’s list.”

  1. Homeownership can help you build equity over time.
  2. Your monthly payments will remain stable.
  3. You may have some tax benefits.
  4. You can take pride in ownership.
  5. Homeownership improves your community.

Let’s expand on each of Freddie Mac’s points:

Homeownership can help you build equity over time.

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).

In a Forbes article, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun reported that now the net worth gap is 45 times greater.

Your monthly payments will remain stable.

When you purchase a home with a fixed rate mortgage, the majority of the payment (principle and interest) remain constant. On the other hand, rents continue to skyrocket. Your housing expense is much more stable if you own instead of rent.

You may have some tax benefits.

According to the Tax Policy Center’s Briefing Book -“A citizen’s guide to the fascinating (though often complex) elements of the federal Tax System” – there are several tax advantages to homeownership.

Here are four items from the Briefing Book:

  • Mortgage Interest Deduction
  • Property Tax Deduction
  • Imputed Rent
  • Profits from Home Sale

You can take pride in ownership.

Most surveys show that a major factor in purchasing a home is the freedom you have to design the home the way you want. From paint colors to yard accessories, you don’t need a landlord’s permission to make the house feel like a home.

Homeownership improves your community.

The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled ‘Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study explained:

“Homeownership does create social capital and provide residents with a platform from which to connect and interact with neighbors…Owning a home means owning part of a neighborhood, and a homeowner’s feelings of commitment to the home can arouse feelings of commitment to the neighborhood, which, in turn, can produce interactions with neighbors.”

Bottom Line

There are many benefits to homeownership. That is why it is still a critical piece of the American Dream.

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Homeowners: Your Home Must Be Sold TWICE

Homeowners: Your Home Must Be Sold TWICE | Simplifying The Market

In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 5%+ over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.

If prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth, as compared to an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home.

Bill Banfield, VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges anyone looking to buy or sell in today’s market to remember the impact of this challenge: 

“While a 1 or 2 percent difference in home value opinions may not seem like a lot, it could be enough to derail a mortgage.

A homeowner [or a buyer] could be forced to bring more cash to closing in order to make a mortgage work if the appraisal is lower than expected. On the other hand, if an appraisal comes in higher, they could be surprised with more equity than they had planned. Either way, if owners are aware of their local markets it will lead to smoother mortgage transactions.”

The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last 12 months.

Homeowners: Your Home Must Be Sold TWICE | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Every house on the market has to be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, let’s get together to discuss this and any other obstacle that may arise.

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The High Impact of Low Interest Rates on Your Purchasing Power

The High Impact of Low Interest Rates on Your Purchasing Power | Simplifying The Market

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 3.96%, which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history!

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows what impact rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range, and planned to keep your principal and interest payments between $1,850-$1,900 a month.

The High Impact of Low Interest Rates on Your Purchasing Power | Simplifying The Market

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Not For Sale By Owner!

5 Reasons Why You Should Not For Sale By Owner! | Simplifying The Market

In today’s market, with home prices rising and a lack of inventory, some homeowners may consider trying to sell their homes on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons why this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are the top five reasons:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers 

Recent studies have shown that 94% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 16% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

Where did buyers find the homes they actually purchased?

  • 51% on the internet
  • 34% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 8% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With 

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale by Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years. 

The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent 

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $185,000, while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $245,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $60,000 more for your home, as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, let’s get together and discuss the options available in your market today.

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Median Days on the Market Drops to 27! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Median Days on the Market Drops to 27! [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed their members for their monthly Confidence Index.
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions.
  • Homes sold in less than a month in 24 out of 50 states, and Washington D.C.
  • Homes typically went under contract in 27 days in May!

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Epic Housing Shortage Being Reported

Epic Housing Shortage Being Reported | Simplifying The Market

The Joint Center of Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University recently released their 2017 State of the Nation’s Housing Study, and a recent blog from JCHS revealed some of the more surprising aspects of the study.

The first two revelations centered around the shortage of housing inventory currently available in both existing homes and new construction.

Regarding Existing Home Inventory:

“For the fourth year in a row, the inventory of homes for sale across the US not only failed to recover, but dropped yet again. At the end of 2016 there were historically low 1.65 million homes for sale nationwide, which at the current sales rate was just 3.6 months of supply – almost half of the 6.0 months level that is considered a balanced market.”

Regarding New Home Inventory:

“Markets nationwide are still feeling the effects of the deep and extended decline in housing construction. Over the past 10 years, just 9 million new housing units were completed and added to the housing stock. This was the lowest 10-year period on records dating back to the 1970s, and far below the 14 and 15 million units averaged over the 1980s and 1990s.”

Bottom Line

The biggest challenge in today’s market is getting current homeowners and builders to realize the opportunity they have to maximize profit by selling and/or building NOW!!

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Be Thankful You Don’t Have to Pay Mom and Dad’s Interest Rate

Be Thankful You Don’t Have to Pay Mom and Dad’s Interest Rate | Simplifying The Market

Interest rates have hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, which has given many buyers relief from rising home prices and has helped with affordability. Experts predict that rates will increase by the end of 2017 and will be about three-quarters of a percentage point higher, at 4.5%, by the end of 2018.

Last week’s Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey revealed that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have fallen to their lowest mark this year, at 3.88%. This is great news for homebuyers looking to purchase and homeowners looking to refinance.

The rate you secure greatly impacts your monthly mortgage payment and the amount you will ultimately pay for your home.

Let’s take a look at a historical view of interest rates over the last 45 years.

Be Thankful You Don’t Have to Pay Mom and Dad’s Interest Rate | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Be thankful that you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

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Your Opportunity to Achieve the American Dream Keeps Getting Better!

Forbes.com recently released the latest results of their American Dream Index, in which they measure “the prosperity of the middle class, and…examine which states best support the American Dream.”

The monthly index measures several different economic factors, including goods-producing employment, personal and commercial bankruptcies, building permits, startup activity, unemployment insurance claims, labor force participation, and layoffs.

The national index score was rounded out to 100.0 in January as a baseline for comparison and it rose the fourth straight month in a row to 101.8.

Alaska, coming in at 89.4, represented the lowest score on the index due in part to the recent collapse in oil prices. In contrast, Wyoming came in with the highest score at 115.1. The full results can be seen in the map below.

Your Opportunity to Achieve the American Dream Keeps Getting Better! | Simplifying The Market

Forbes Senior Editor Kurt Badenhausen explained why many states saw a boost in the index last month:

“The American Dream Index rose for the fourth straight month to 101.8 propelled by gains in goods-producing jobs and building permits, as well as declines in unemployment claims and mass layoffs.

Goods-producing jobs (manufacturing, mining, construction and agriculture) were up for the ninth straight month in May…Building permits rose for the fourth straight month compared to the prior year.”

Bottom Line

The American Dream, for many, includes being able to own a home of one’s own. With the economy improving in many areas of the country, that dream can finally become a reality.

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NAR Data Shows Now Is a Great Time to Sell!

NAR Data Shows Now Is a Great Time to Sell! | Simplifying The Market

We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when demand is high and the supply of that item is limited. Two major reports issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed information that suggests that now continues to be a great time to sell your house.

Let’s look at the data covered in the latest REALTORS® Confidence Index and Existing Home Sales Report.

REALTORS® CONFIDENCE INDEX

Every month, NAR surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions.” This month, the index showed (again) that home-buying demand continued to outpace supply in May.

The map below illustrates buyer demand broken down by state (the darker your state, the stronger the demand is there).

NAR Data Shows Now Is a Great Time to Sell! | Simplifying The Market

In addition to revealing high demand, the index also mentioned that “compared to conditions in the same month last year, seller traffic conditions were ‘weak’ in 24 states, ‘stable’ in 25 states, and ‘strong’ in D.C and West Virginia. 

Takeaway: Demand for housing continues to be strong throughout 2017, but supply is struggling to keep up, and this trend is likely to continue into 2018.

THE EXISTING HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data revealed in the report was not sales, but was instead the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:

  • Total housing inventory rose 2.1% to 1.96 million homes available for sale
  • That represents a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace
  • Unsold inventory is 8.4% lower than a year ago, marking the 24th consecutive month with year-over-year declines

According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

“Current demand levels indicate sales should be stronger, but it’s clear some would-be buyers are having to delay or postpone their home search because low supply is leading to worsening affordability conditions.”

In real estate, there is a guideline that often applies; when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see appreciation. Between 6-7 months is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer’s market and should expect depreciation in home values.

As we mentioned before, there is currently a 4.2- month supply, and houses are going under contract fast. The Confidence Index shows that 55% of properties were on the market for less than a month when sold.

In May, properties sold nationally were typically on the market for 27 days. As Yun notes, this will continue, unless more listings come to the market.

“With new and existing supply failing to catch up with demand, several markets this summer will continue to see homes going under contract at this remarkably fast pace of under a month.”

Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market. And the supply will continue to ‘fail to catch up with demand’ if a ‘sizable’ supply does not enter the market.

Bottom Line

If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers that are still out searching for your house.

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Existing Home Sales Surge into Summer [INFOGRAPHIC]

Existing Home Sales Surge into Summer [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Existing Home Sales Surge into Summer [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Existing Home Sales reached their third highest mark this year in May.
  • Inventory of homes for sale has dropped 8.4% since last year, marking the 24th consecutive month of year-over-year declines.
  • NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun had this to say: “Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets are pushing prices higher.”

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75% of Homeowners Think Now is a Good Time to Sell!

75% of Homeowners Think Now is a Good Time to Sell! | Simplifying The Market

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released the findings of their Q2 Homeownership Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) Survey. The report covers core topics like, “if now is a good time to buy or sell a home, the perception of home price changes, perceived ability to qualify for a mortgage, and [an] outlook on the U.S. economy.”

The survey revealed that 75% of homeowners think now is a good time to sell, compared to 70% last quarter. This is a considerable increase from more than a year ago when 66% agreed.

Even though homeowners believe that now is a good time to sell, many have not taken the step to list their homes, as inventory shortages still exist across the country. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, had this to say:

“There are just not enough homeowners deciding to sell because they’re either content where they are, holding off until they build more equity, or hesitant seeing as it will be difficult to find an affordable home to buy…

As a result, inventory conditions have worsened and are restricting sales from breaking out while contributing to price appreciation that remains far above income growth.”

Bottom Line

If you are wondering if now is a good time to sell your house, let’s get together to discuss the opportunities available in our market.

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Buyer’s Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar

Buyer's Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar | Simplifying The Market

We previously reported how a shortage of inventory in the starter and trade-up home markets is driving prices up and causing bidding wars, creating a true seller’s market. At the same time, in the premium home market, an over-abundance of inventory has started to see prices come down and put buyers in the driver’s seat, creating the beginning of a buyer’s market.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors released their Existing Home Sales Report which shed some additional light on the impact of inventory levels on sales in each price range.

The chart below shows the year-over-year difference in sales at each price range.

Buyer's Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar | Simplifying The Market

The under $100K range has shown declines in recent years due to the shortage of distressed homes available for sale (just 5% of sales this past month, compared to 35% in January 2012). Sales in the next two price ranges are no doubt being hindered by low inventory as buyers compete for the same home.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, explained:

“Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets are pushing prices higher.”

The biggest surprise? This is the first time in years where the $1M and up price range had the highest jump in sales when compared to last year and to all other price ranges (29.1%)! The two price ranges right underneath the $1M range were a close second and third. As the price went up, so did the sales!

With additional inventory available in the higher price ranges, and the economy improving, many luxury buyers are finding it easier to find their dream homes. Yun commented,

“The job market in most of the country is healthy and the recent downward trend in mortgage rates continues to keep buyer interest at a robust level.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is looking to sell your starter or trade up home and move up to a luxury home, now is the time!

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Pre-Approval Should Always Be Your First Step

Pre-Approval Should Always Be Your First Step | Simplifying The Market

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. 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, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays 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.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will 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 describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will 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

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

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2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Simplifying The Market

In Realtor.com’s recent article, “Home Buyers’ Top Mortgage Fears: Which One Scares You?” they mention that “46% of potential home buyers fear they won’t qualify for a mortgage to the point that they don’t even try.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the First Quarter 2017 Homeownership Program Index (HPI) from Down Payment Resource, saving for a down payment was the barrier that kept 70% of renters from buying.

Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource had this to say,

There are many mortgage-ready renters today, but they don’t know it. Often, homebuyers remain sidelined for years due to the down payment.

Many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, but programs are available that allow buyers put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

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

The survey revealed that 59% of Americans either don’t know (54%) or are misinformed (5%) about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Simplifying The Market

As you can see in the chart above, 53.2% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.

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The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • 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 (29.2%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15.8%), 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!

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The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning

The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning | Simplifying The Market

We often discuss the difference in family wealth between homeowner households and renter households. Much of that difference is the result of the equity buildup that homeowners experience over the time that they own their home. In a report recently released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), they reveal how valuable equity can be in retirement planning.

Craig Copeland, Senior Research Associate at EBRI, recently authored a report, Importance of Individual Account Retirement Plans and Home Equity in Family Total Wealth, in which he reveals:

“Individual account retirement plan assets, plus home equity, represent almost all of what families have to use for retirement expenses outside of Social Security and traditional pensions. Those families without individual account assets typically have very low overall assets, so they have almost nothing to draw from for retirement expenses.”

The report echoed the findings of a working paper, Home Equity Patterns among Older American Households, authored by Barbara Butrica and Stipica Mudrazija of Urban Institute. Fannie Mae highlighted these findings for their blog The Home Story this past winter, quoting Butrica and Mudrazija:

 “For most adults near traditional retirement age, a home is their most valuable asset — dwarfing retirement accounts, other financial assets, and other nonfinancial assets. Although relatively few retirees tap into their home equity, having it provides financial security… In fact, many retirement security experts argue that the conventional three-legged stool of retirement resources — Social Security, pensions, and savings — is incomplete because it ignores the home.”

USAToday interviewed two area experts to comment on the EBRI report. Randy Bruns, a private wealth adviser with HighPoint Planning Partners, agreed with the findings:

“Social Security and home equity are major pieces of the retirement puzzle.”

Wade Pfau, Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services and author of Reverse Mortgages: How to use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement, said having the equity without a plan to use it won’t help:

“Home equity is a very important asset for American retirees, and so it is important to think about how to make best use of home equity in retirement planning.”

Bottom Line

Whether you use the equity in your home through a reverse mortgage or by selling and downsizing to a less expensive home, it should be a crucial piece of your retirement planning.

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The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction

The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction | Simplifying The Market

Many real estate economists have called on new home builders to ramp up production to help relieve the shortage of inventory of homes for sale throughout the United States. The added inventory would no doubt aid buyers in their search to secure their dream home, while also helping to ease price increases throughout the country.

Unfortunately for builders, there are many forces that are making it difficult for them to do just that!

Last week at the National Association of Real Estate Editors 51st Annual Conference, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft broke down the 4 ‘L’s of New Home Construction: Lots, Labor, Lumber, and Lending.

The concept of supply and demand is ripe in the new home construction industry. The four ‘L’s of new home construction are each suffering a supply problem, and with that comes added costs. Let’s break it down!

Lots – There is a shortage of land near metros at an affordable price, causing builders to move farther and farther away from cities to keep costs down. This isn’t always an attractive option for those who want to stay close to work.

Labor – The Great Recession forced many skilled construction and trade workers to find other sources of income once their jobs were lost at the time of the crash. Even though the overall housing market has recovered, these workers have not returned. Those who remain are starting to age out and retire, causing even more of a shortage and additional costs.

Lumber – The cost to build a new home is directly tied to the cost of the lot and the cost of the supplies needed to build the home. Lumber costs continue to escalate due to policies restricting the importation of Canadian lumber, making larger luxury homes an attractive option to recoup costs when selling, rather than building smaller single-family homes and making less profit.

Below is a graph showing the increase in cost of 1,000 board feet of framing lumber.

The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction | Simplifying The Market

Year-over-year, lumber costs are up 13% after reaching a high of $433 in the second week of April.

Lending – During the Great Recession, many small community banks were forced to close their doors. These banks were a great source of capital and lending for builders looking to borrow money at a low interest rate in the community in which they were building. Tougher lending standards have made borrowing funds more expensive and more difficult for builders.

Bottom Line

Additional costs across all 4 ‘L’s have made building luxury properties more attractive to builders as they are able to make a larger margin with the higher sales price. The move to scale down to starter and trade up homes to help with supply will mean any additional costs are absorbed by the builders unless the supply of the 4 ‘L’s can increase!

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Do You Know How Much Equity You Have in Your Home?

Do You Know How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? | Simplifying The Market

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 91,000 properties regained equity in the first quarter of 2017. This is great news for the country, as 48.2 million of all mortgaged properties are now in a positive equity situation.

Price Appreciation = Good News for Homeowners

Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist, explains:

One million borrowers achieved positive equity over the last year, which means risk continues to steadily decline as a result of increasing home prices.”

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, believes this is a great sign for the market in 2017 as well, as he had this to say:

Homeowner equity increased by $766 billion over the last year, the largest increase since Q2 2014. The rising cushion of home equity is one of the main drivers of improved mortgage performance. Since home equity is the largest source of homeowner wealth, the increase in home equity also supports consumer balance sheets, spending and the broader economy.”

This is great news for homeowners! But, do they realize that their equity position has changed?

According to the Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI), more homeowners are beginning to realize that they may have more equity than they first thought.

This is only the second time in the survey’s history that the net share of those saying it’s a good time to sell surpassed the net share of those saying it’s a good time to buy.

78.8% of homeowners have significant equity (more than 20%) in their homes today!

This means that many Americans with a mortgage have an opportunity to take advantage of today’s seller’s market. With a sizeable equity position, many homeowners could easily move into a housing situation that better meets their current needs (moving to a larger home or downsizing).

Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae spoke out on this issue:

“High home prices have led many consumers to give us the first clear indication we’ve seen in the National Housing Survey’s seven-year history that they think it’s now a seller’s market. However, we continue to see a lack of housing supply as many potential sellers are unwilling or unable to put their homes on the market…” 

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many Americans who is unsure of how much equity you have built in your home, don’t let that be the reason you fail to move on to your dream home in 2017! Let’s get together to evaluate your situation!

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