Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off

Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off | Simplifying The Market

Whether you are a buyer searching for your first home, or a homeowner looking to move up to your next home, you should pay attention to where mortgage interest rates are heading.

Over the course of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates have increased from 3.95% in the first week of January to 4.40% in the first week of April.

At first glance, the difference between these numbers in such a short amount of time could be concerning, but if we look at the graph below, we’ll see that rates have already started to level off and return to the mark set in February.

Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off | Simplifying The Market

This is great news for anyone looking to buy a home this spring! The spring is always one of the busiest seasons for home buying, and with rates increasing even more, buyers have come off the fence to lock in great rates! This is still great advice as the experts believe that rates will continue to rise throughout the year.

Every month, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors release their projections for where they believe mortgage rates will be in the coming months. If we take the average of what each of the four organizations is predicting for the second quarter, rates are expected to rise to about 4.48% by June.

That average climbs to 4.73% by the end of this year.

So, what does this mean?

Waiting until the end of the year to buy, with rates still projected to increase, will end up costing you more money on your monthly mortgage payment. For every $250,000 you need to borrow to purchase your dream home, you will spend $49.21 more per month, $590.52 per year, and over $17,700 by the end of your 30-year mortgage.

And that’s just the impact of your interest rate going up!

Bottom Line

If you are ready and willing to purchase a home, find out if you’re able to. Let’s get together to evaluate your needs and help you with next steps!

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What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)? | Simplifying The Market

When it comes to buying a home, whether it is your first time or your fifth, it is always important to know all the facts. With the large number of mortgage programs available that allow buyers to purchase homes with down payments below 20%, you can never have too much information about Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

What is PMI?

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

“An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.”

 As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. Freddie Mac goes on to explain that:

“The cost of PMI varies based on your loan-to-value ratio – the amount you owe on your mortgage compared to its value – and credit score, but you can expect to pay between $30 and $70 per month for every $100,000 borrowed.” 

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average down payment for all buyers last year was 10%. For first-time buyers, that number dropped to 5%, while repeat buyers put down 14% (no doubt aided by the sale of their homes). This just goes to show that for a large number of buyers last year, PMI did not stop them from buying their dream homes.

Here’s an example of the cost of a mortgage on a $200,000 home with a 5% down payment & PMI, compared to a 20% down payment without PMI:

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)? | Simplifying The Market

The larger the down payment you can make, the lower your monthly housing cost will be, but Freddie Mac urges you to remember:

“It’s no doubt an added cost, but it’s enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you have questions about whether you should buy now or wait until you’ve saved a larger down payment, let’s get together to discuss our market’s conditions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.

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US Housing Market Still In ‘Buy Territory’!

US Housing Market Still In ‘Buy Territory’! | Simplifying The Market

According to the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index, the U.S. housing market has continued to move deeper into buy territory, supporting the belief that housing markets across the country remain a sound investment.

The BH&J Index is a quarterly report that attempts to answer the question:

In today’s housing market, is it better to rent or buy a home?

The index examines the entire US housing market and then isolates 23 major cities for comparison. The researchers “measure the relationship between purchasing property and building wealth through a buildup in equity versus renting a comparable property and investing in a portfolio of stocks and bonds.” 

While 13 of the 23 metropolitan markets examined moved further into buy territory, markets like Dallas, Denver, and Houston are currently deep into rent territory. Due to a lack of inventory, the home prices in these areas have increased by 6.7%6.3%, and 5.3%  respectively from a year ago.

According to Eli Beracha, Ph.D., Co-Creator of the index, home prices will begin to return to more normal levels.

Our data indicates that prices are above their 40-year trend but not significantly so as they were in 2007. Rather than a crash, I anticipate slower growth in prices accompanied by longer marketing times for sellers and increasing inventories, which should bring prices back in conjunction with their 40-year trend.”

Bottom Line

The majority of the country is strongly in buy territory. Buying a home makes sense socially and financially, as rents are predicted to increase substantially in the next year. Protect yourself from rising rents by locking in your housing cost with a mortgage payment now. 

To Find Out More About the Study: The BH&J Index and other FAU real estate activities are sponsored by Investments Limited of Boca Raton. The BH&J Index is published quarterly and is available online at http://business.fau.edu/buyvsrent.

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VA Loans by the Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC]

VA Loans by the Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Since the creation of the VA Home Loans Program, 22 million veterans have been able to achieve the American Dream of homeownership.
  • In 2017, $188 billion was loaned to veterans and their families through the program.
  • VA Purchase Loans are on the rise in 46 out of 50 states and Washington, DC.

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House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand

House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand | Simplifying The Market

Why are home prices still rising? It is a simple answer. There are more purchasers in the market right now than there are available homes for them to buy. This is an example of the theory of “supply and demand” which is defined as:

“the amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price.”

When demand exceeds supply, prices go up. This is currently happening in the residential real estate market.

Here are the numbers for supply and demand as compared to last year for the last three months (March numbers are not yet available):

House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand | Simplifying The Market

In each of the last three months, demand (buyer traffic) has increased as compared to last year while supply (number of available listings) has decreased. If this situation persists, home values will continue to increase.

Bottom Line

The reason home prices are still rising is because there are many purchasers looking to buy, but very few homeowners ready to sell. This imbalance is the reason prices will remain on the uptick.

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Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years

Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years | Simplifying The Market

According to a new study from Lending Tree, Americans who have filed for bankruptcy may be able to rebuild enough credit to qualify for a home loan in as little as 2-3 years.

This is in stark contrast to the belief that many have that they need to wait 7-10 years for their bankruptcies to clear from their credit reports before attempting to apply for either a mortgage or a personal or auto loan.

The study analyzed over one million loan applications for mortgages, personal, and auto loans and compared borrowers who had a bankruptcy on their credit report vs. those who did not to find out the “Cost of Bankruptcy.”

The study found that 43.2% of Americans who filed bankruptcy were able to repair their credit back to a 640 FICO® Score in less than a year. The percentage of those who achieved a 640 FICO® Score increased to nearly 75% after 5 years. The full breakdown of the findings was used to create the chart below.

Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years | Simplifying The Market

Americans who were able to repair their credit scores to a range of 720-739 within three years of filing were able to obtain the same financing options as those who had never filed bankruptcy.

According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, 53.5% of those who were approved for a home loan had FICO® Scores between 600-749 last month. This is great news for Americans who are looking to re-enter the housing market.

Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years | Simplifying The Market

Raj Patel, Lending Tree’s Director of Credit Restoration & Debt-Related Services had this to say:

“People may think that filing a bankruptcy would put you out of the loan market for seven to ten years, but this study shows that it is possible to rebuild your credit to a good credit quality.”

“LendingTree’s research found that very few bankruptcy filers have a harder time [obtaining a mortgage] than those who have not filed for bankruptcy.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the millions of Americans who has filed for bankruptcy and think that you have to wait 7-10 years to make your dream of returning to homeownership a reality, let’s get together to find out if you qualify now.

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What Should You Look for In Your Real Estate Team?

What Should You Look for In Your Real Estate Team? | Simplifying The Market

How do you select the members of your team who are going to help make your dream of owning a home a reality? What should you be looking for? How do you know if you’ve found the right agent or lender?

The most important characteristic that you should be looking for in your agent is someone who is going to take the time to really educate you on the choices available to you and your ability to buy in today’s market.

As the financial guru Dave Ramsey advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Do your research. Ask your friends and family for recommendations of professionals they’ve worked with in the past and have had good experiences with.

Look for members of your team who will be honest and trustworthy; after all, you will be trusting them to help you make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

Whether this is your first or fifth time buying a home, you want to make sure that you have an agent who is going to have the tough conversations with you, not just the easy ones. If your offer isn’t accepted by the seller, or they think that there may be something wrong with the home that you’ve fallen in love with, you would rather know what they think than make a costly mistake.

According to the Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report:

Buyers from all generations primarily wanted their agent’s help to find the right home to purchase. Buyers were also looking for help to negotiate the terms of sale and to help with price negotiations.” Additionally, “Help understanding the purchase process was most beneficial to buyers 37 years and younger at 75 percent.”

Look for someone to invest in your family’s future with you. You want an agent who isn’t focused on the transaction but is instead focused on helping you understand the process while helping you find your dream home.

Bottom Line

In this world of Google searches, where it seems like all the answers are just a mouse-click away, you need an agent who is going to educate you and share the information that you need to know before you even know you need it.

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NOT Owning Your Home Can Cost You a Lot of Money!

NOT Owning Your Home Can Cost You a Lot of Money! | Simplifying The Market

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.

Realtor.com recently reported that:

Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term – that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option… as people get more savings in their pockets, buying becomes the better option.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

1. In a previous blog we highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  • Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  • Homeownership provides tax savings.
  • Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  • Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
  • No other investment lets you live inside of it.

2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2018 could build more than $44,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment– along with a profit margin!!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.

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The Cost of Renting vs. Buying Today [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying Today [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 (28.9%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15.7%), 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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99% of Experts Agree: Home Prices Will Increase

99% of Experts Agree: Home Prices Will Increase | Simplifying The Market

Some believe that the combined effects of the new tax code and rising mortgage rates will have an adverse impact on residential real estate prices in 2018. However, the clear majority of recently surveyed housing experts believe that home values will continue to rise this year.

What is the Home Price Expectation Survey?

Each quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists. Those surveyed include experts such as:

  • Daniel Bachman, Senior Manager, U.S. Economics at Deloitte Services, LP
  • Kathy Bostjancic, Head of U.S. Macro Investors Service at Oxford Economics
  • David Downs, Real Estate Finance Professor at VCU
  • Edward Pinto, Resident Fellow at American Enterprise Institute
  • Albert Saiz, Director at MIT Center for Real Estate

Where do these experts see home values headed in 2018?

Here is a breakdown of where they see home values twelve months from now:

  • 21.6% believe prices will appreciate by 6% or more
  • 71.6% believe prices will appreciate between 3 and 5.99%
  • 5.7% believe prices will appreciate between 0 and 2.99%
  • Only 1.1% believe prices will depreciate

Bottom Line

Almost ninety-nine percent of the top experts studying residential real estate believe that prices will appreciate this year, and over 93% believe home values will appreciate by at least 3%.

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Be Thankful You Don’t Have to Pay Your Parents’ Interest Rate!

Be Thankful You Don’t Have to Pay Your Parents’ Interest Rate! | Simplifying The Market

Interest rates hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, which gave many buyers relief from rising home prices and helped with affordability. In the first quarter of 2018, rates have increased from 3.95% up to 4.45% and experts predict that rates will increase even more by the end of the year.

The rate you secure greatly impacts your monthly mortgage payment and the amount you will ultimately pay for your home. Don’t let the prediction that rates will increase stop you from purchasing your dream home this year.

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 Your Parents’ 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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Buyer Demand Still Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale

Buyer Demand Still Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale | Simplifying The Market

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as market demand. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between Seller Traffic (supply) and Buyer Traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”

Buyer Demand Still Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale | Simplifying The Market

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only four states had a ‘stable’ demand level.

Seller Supply

The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”

As you can see from the map below, 25 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 21 states reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, 3 states and Washington D.C. reported ‘strong’ seller traffic, and only 1 state reported ‘very strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes.

Buyer Demand Still Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in the market now!

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5 Reasons Why to Sell This Spring!

5 Reasons Why to Sell This Spring! | Simplifying The Market

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this spring makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory has declined year over year for the last 32 months and is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 45 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

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20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC]

Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!

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Freddie Mac: Rising Mortgage Rates DO NOT Lead to Falling Home Prices

Freddie Mac: Rising Mortgage Rates DO NOT Lead to Falling Home Prices | Simplifying The Market

Recently, Freddie Mac published an Insight Report titled Nowhere to go but up? How increasing mortgage rates could affect housing. The report focused on the impact the projected rise in mortgage rates might have on the housing market this year.

Many believe that an increase in mortgage rates will cause a slowdown in purchases which would, in turn, lead to a fall in house values. Ultimately, however, prices are determined by supply and demand and while rising mortgage rates may slow demand, they also affect supply. From the report:

 “For current homeowners, the decision to buy a new home is typically linked to their decision to sell their current home… Because of this link, the financing costs of the existing mortgage are part of the homeowner’s decision of whether and when to move.

Once financing costs for a new mortgage rise above the rate borrowers are paying for their current mortgage, borrowers would have to give up below-market financing to sell their home.

Instead, they may choose to delay both the sale of their existing home and the purchase of a new home to maintain the advantageous financing.”

The Freddie Mac report, in acknowledging this situation, concluded that prices are not adversely impacted by higher mortgage rates. They explained:

“While there is a drop in the demand for homes, there is an associated drop in the supply of homes from the link between the selling and buying decisions. As both supply and demand move together in this way they have offsetting effects on price—lower demand decreases price and lower supply increases price.

They went on to reveal that the Freddie Mac National House Price Index is…

“…unresponsive to movements in interest rates. In the current housing market, the driving force behind the increase in prices is a low supply of both new and existing homes combined with historically low rates. As mortgage rates increase, the demand for home purchases will likely remain strong relative to the constrained supply and continue to put upward pressure on home prices.”

The following graph, based on data from the report, reveals what happened to home prices the last six times mortgage rates rose by at least 1%.

Freddie Mac: Rising Mortgage Rates DO NOT Lead to Falling Home Prices | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Whether you are a move-up buyer or first-time buyer, waiting to purchase your next home based on the belief that prices will fall because of rising mortgage rates makes no sense.

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Is a Major Home Renovation Worth It in the Long Run?

Is a Major Home Renovation Worth It in the Long Run? | Simplifying The Market

Last week, we shared 7 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Home To Retire In.For some homeowners, these seven factors can be taken into account with a home renovation, but is it worth it to remodel or change floor plans?

Let’s look at this example.

Let’s say you have a 4-bedroom colonial style home in a great school district. The neighborhood is amazing, and you are very comfortable there, but your kids are all grown up and the original benefits of the home no longer apply.

You’ve always wanted a huge master suite and are considering merging 3 of the smaller bedrooms on the second floor to achieve this dream.

In the short term, you are over the moon excited about your newly renovated oasis.

In the long term, when you go to sell your home down the road, you’ve now taken a 4-bedroom home in a great school district and turned it into a 2-bedroom home. Your pool of potential buyers has shrunk significantly and so has the value of your home (unless you are able to find someone who has the exact needs you have today!).

Why not consider listing your 4-bedroom home now and moving into a gorgeous 2-bedroom with a master suite? Your house can become a home for the next family looking for that perfect neighborhood with a great school district to raise their kids in!

You may even be able to achieve your dream in the same area you love, without having to give up your favorite restaurants and grocery stores.

Bottom Line

If you are debating a major renovation that would change the layout of your home, before you pick up that sledgehammer, let’s get together and discuss the available listings in our area that might meet your needs today!

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Are You Aware of How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? You May Be Surprised!

Are You Aware of How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? You May Be Surprised! | Simplifying The Market

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 675,000 US homeowners regained positive equity in their homes in 2017. This is great news for the country, as 95.1% of all mortgaged properties are now in a positive equity situation.

U.S homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all the properties) have seen their equity increase by a total of $908.4 billion since the fourth quarter 2016, an increase of 12.2%, year over year.”

Price Appreciation = Good News for Homeowners

Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist, explains:

Home-price growth has been the primary driver of home-equity wealth creation. The CoreLogic Home Price Index grew 6.2 percent during 2017. The largest calendar-year increase since 2013. Likewise, the average growth in home equity was more than $15,000 during 2017, the most in four years.”

He also believes this is a great sign for the market in 2018, saying:

“Because wealth gains spur additional consumer purchases, the rise in home-equity wealth during 2017 should add more than $50 billion to U.S. consumption spending over the next two to three years. 

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

study by Fannie Mae suggests that many homeowners are not aware that they have regained equity in their homes as their investment has increased in value. For example, their study showed that 23% of Americans still believe their home is in a negative equity position when, in actuality, CoreLogic’s report shows that only 4.9% of homes are in that position (down from 6.3% in Q4 2016).

The study also revealed that only 37% of Americans believe that they have “significant equity” (greater than 20%) when in actuality, 83% do!

Are You Aware of How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? You May Be Surprised! | Simplifying The Market

This means that 46% of Americans with a mortgage fail to realize the opportune situation they are in. With a sizeable equity position, many homeowners could easily move into a house (either larger or smaller) that better meets their current needs.

Fannie Mae spoke out on this issue in their report:

“Homeowners who underestimate their homes’ values not only underestimate their home equity, they also likely underestimate 1) how large a down payment they could make with their home equity, 2) their chances of qualifying for mortgages, and, therefore, 3) their opportunities for selling their current homes and for buying different homes.”

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 2018! Let’s get together to evaluate your situation!

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Dreaming of a Luxury Home? Now’s the Time!

Dreaming of a Luxury Home? Now's the Time! | Simplifying The Market

If your house no longer fits your needs and you are planning on buying a luxury home, now is a great time to do so! Recently, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing released its Luxury Market Report which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control.

The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds the number of people searching to purchase these properties in many areas of the country. This means that homes are often staying on the market longer or can be found at a discount.

Those who have a starter or trade-up home to sell will find buyers competing, and often entering bidding wars, to be able to call their house their new home.

The sale of your starter or trade-up house will help you come up with a larger down payment for your new luxury home. Even a 5% down payment on a million-dollar home is $50,000.

But not all who are buying luxury properties have a home to sell first.

A recent Bloomberg article gave some insight into what many millennials are choosing to do:

“A new generation of affluent homebuyers powered by a surge in inherited wealth is driving the luxury-home market, demanding larger spaces and fancier finishes, according to a report heralding ‘the rise of the new aristocracy.’”

Bottom Line

The best time to sell anything is when demand is high, and supply is low. If you are currently in a starter or trade-up house that no longer fits your needs and you are looking to step into a luxury home, now’s the time to list your house for sale and make your dreams come true.

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The Cost of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Cost of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

The Cost of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are projected to increase steadily heading into 2019.
  • The higher your interest rate, the more money you end up paying for your home and the higher your monthly payment will be.
  • Rates are still low right now. Don’t wait until rates hit 5% to start searching for your dream home!

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Moving up Is MORE Affordable Now Than Almost Any Other Time in 40 Years

Moving up Is MORE Affordable Now Than Almost Any Other Time in 40 Years | Simplifying The Market

If you are considering selling your current home, to either move up to a larger home or into a home in an area that better suits your current family needs, great news was just revealed.

Last week, Trulia posted a blog, Not Your Father’s Housing Market, which examined home affordability over the last 40+ years (1975-2016). Their research revealed that:

“Nationally, homes are just about the most affordable they’ve been in the last 40 years… the median household could afford a home 1.5 times more expensive than the median home price. In 1980, the median household could only afford about 3/4 of the median home price.

Despite relatively stagnant incomes, affordability has grown due to the sharp drop in mortgage rates over the last 30 years – from a high of over 16% in the 1980s to under 4% by 2016.

Of the nation’s 100 largest metros, only Miami became unaffordable between 1990 and 2016. Meanwhile, 22 metros have flipped from being unaffordable to becoming affordable in that same time frame.”

Here is a graph showing the Affordability Index compared to the 40-year average:

Moving up Is MORE Affordable Now Than Almost Any Other Time in 40 Years | Simplifying The Market

The graph shows that housing affordability is better now than at any other time in the last forty years, except during the housing crash last decade.

(Remember that during the crash you could purchase distressed properties – foreclosures and short sales – at 20-50% discounts.)

There is no doubt that with home prices and mortgage rates on the rise, the affordability index will continue to fall. That is why if you are thinking of moving up, you probably shouldn’t wait.

Bottom Line

If you have held off on moving up to your family’s dream home because you were hoping to time the market, that time has come.

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7 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Home to Retire In

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Home to Retire In | Simplifying The Market

As more and more baby boomers enter retirement age, the question of whether or not to sell their homes and move will become a hot topic. In today’s housing market climate, with low available inventory in the starter and trade-up home categories, it makes sense to evaluate your home’s ability to adapt to your needs in retirement.

According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.

1. Affordability

“It may be easy enough to purchase your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property.

Would moving to a complex with homeowner association fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?

2. Equity

“If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.”

The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $14,000 in equity last year.

3. Maintenance

“As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline.”

As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind of not having to do the maintenance work yourself?

4. Security

“Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind.”

As scary as that thought may be, any additional security and an extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.

5. Pets

“Renting won’t do if the dog can’t come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits.”

Evaluate all of your options when it comes to bringing your ‘furever’ friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or in a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?

6. Mobility

“No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility.”

Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t need your home to be more accessible. Installing handrails and making sure your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.

7. Convenience

“Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!”

How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Bottom Line

When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement. If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to sell your house in today’s market and get you into your dream retirement home!

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Shannon Fowler on March 13,2018

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas for Northern Virginia

It’s almost spring, and time to start thinking about your outdoor spaces. Many of you may be undertaking projects to extend your living space outdoors, and one popular option is the outdoor kitchen! The possibilities are endless and limited only by your budget.

There is much more to designing an outdoor kitchen than picking appliances and seating options. Depending on how elaborate your design, you may need to think about utilities (gas and electric), plumbing, fire safety, and lighting, as well as hardscapes such as brick or stonework, pergolas, and concrete work. The intrepid do-it-yourself-er may feel up to tackling all the various projects, but many homeowners will need to engage a contractor that specializes in outdoor kitchens.

Given the unpredictable weather in the Northern Virginia area, you may also want to consider ways to extend your seasons. With the expense of outdoor kitchens you want to be able to use them more than 4-5 months out of the year! Think about ways to heat the area in the fall, and provide shade and cooling in the summer.

Another consideration is your home’s resale value. Any major project such as this should enhance the value of your home, but not overprice it for your neighborhood.  We can help you determine what makes sense for your home and your Northern Virginia  or Greater DC neighborhood.

Houzz offers a ton of ideas to get your creativity flowing!

Herbert Riggs and Associates can help you with all your real estate needs. Whether buying, selling, or investing, If you have any questions, give me a call at 703-966-2647 or send me an email at Herbert.Riggs@gmail.com.

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Shannon Fowler on March 13,2018

NoVA Real Estate Update – February 2018

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors® reports on February 2018 home sales activity for Fairfax and Arlington counties, the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church and the towns of Vienna, Herndon and Clifton.

According to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, February 2018 continued the trend of tight supply of homes for sale, and stiff competition for the available homes. As a matter of fact 1 in 8 home buyers are making cash offers, which can make it difficult for those using traditional financing to make a deal.

A total of 1,143 homes sold in February 2018, which represents a 4.11 percent decrease from February 2017 home sales of 1,192.

According to Ryan T. Conrad, NVAR CEO, “Northern Virginia continues to be a stable market for real estate. Although year-over-year numbers for February show a slowing of home sale activity in our local footprint, the numbers overall are positive when compared with a five-year February average.

Active listings decreased in February when compared with 2017. The number of new listings were down about 19% from last year, based on 2,396 active listings in February. By comparison, in February 2017, there were 2,973 homes available. The average days on market (DOM) continues to decrease, showing February 2018 at an average of 61 days, compared to the average 67 DOM in February 2017, which is a 9% reduction.

Image courtesy of NVAR

The average home sale price rose slightly compared with last February, to $556,791. This is up less than 1 percent compared to February 2017, when the average price was $552,942.

As can be expected, short supply and buyer competition results in rising home prices. The median sold price for homes in February 2018 was $500,000, up 7.37 percent compared to the February 2017 median price of $465,700.

New pending home sales, reported in February 2018 at 1,768 in Northern Virginia was 3.49 percent below the previous year 1,832 pending contracts. Total pending sales were down by 7.55 percent last month, compared with 2018.

Herbert Riggs and Associates can help you with all your real estate needs. Whether buying, selling, or investing, If you have any questions, give me a call at 703-966-2647 or send me an email at Herbert.Riggs@gmail.com.

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Shannon Fowler on March 13,2018

National Cherry Blossom Festival 2018

Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to the DC area. The festival is typically timed to coincide with peek bloom, although weather can sometimes wreak havoc on the plans. This year’s event is slated for March 20-April 15, so you should have plenty of opportunity to take in the beauty of the spring foliage.

Due to current weather conditions, the latest intel suggests peak bloom will be approximately March 27-31.

Major Events

March 31 – Blossom Kite Festival. Free at Washington Monument.  Bring your own kite, compete in various events, or kids can make their own kites. Find more about it here.

April 7 – PetalPalooza. Free admission. Wharf area (formerly known as the Southwest Waterfront). Entertainment, dining, and nighttime fireworks. More information here.

April 14 – National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Free general admission; tickets required for bleacher seating. The parade route runs down Constitution Avenue between the National Archives building and the Washington Monument.  Find parade info here or buy tickets here.

Herbert Riggs and Associates can help you with all your real estate needs. Whether buying, selling, or investing, If you have any questions, give me a call at 703-966-2647 or send me an email at Herbert.Riggs@gmail.com.

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