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The Importance of Homeownership to the American Dream

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For centuries, people in this country have seen homeownership as part of the American Dream. Whether they were born here or immigrated from another country, they wanted to own a piece of America. With so many prominent societal changes over the last few decades, it is fair to ask if people in America still feel the same way about owning a home. The answer was made abundantly clear in two separate reports released earlier this month.

In their market trends report, As Housing Trends Shift, So Does Renter, Buyer and Seller SentimentTrulia revealed that:

“After two years of no change, the share of Americans who say that homeownership is part of their personal “American Dream” ticked up from 72 percent to 73 percent of Americans.”

At the same time, the National Association of Realtors released their Aspiring Home Buyers Profile. As the report explained:

“For both homeowners and non-homeowners alike, homeownership is strongly considered a part of the American Dream. For non-owners, roughly 75 percent reported that homeownership is part of their American Dream. For owners, nine in 10 believe it is part of their American Dream.”

Bottom Line

The belief among the vast majority of Americans, whether they rent or own, is that purchasing a home still remains a major step toward accomplishing the American Dream.

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The Difference Having a Professional on Your Side Makes

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In today’s fast-paced world, where answers are a Google search away, there are some who may wonder what the benefits of hiring a real estate professional to help them in their home search are. The truth is, with the addition of more information, comes more confusion.

Shows like Property BrothersFixer Upper and the dozens more on HGTV have given many a false sense of what it’s like to buy and sell a home.

Now more than ever, you need an expert on your side who is going to guide you toward your dreams and not let anything get in the way of achieving them. Buying and/or selling a home is definitely not something you want to DIY (Do It Yourself)!

Here are just some of the reasons you need a real estate professional in your corner:

There’s more to real estate than finding a house you like online!

There are over 230 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to ensure you achieve your dream?

 You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer, to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

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Last Chance! Homes are a Bargain Compared to Historic Norms

A loaf of bread used to be a nickel. A movie ticket was a dime.  Not anymore. Houses were also much less expensive than they are now. Inflation raised the price of all three of those items, along with the price of almost every other item we purchase.

The reason we can still afford to consume is that our wages have also risen over time. The better measure of whether an item is more expensive than it was before is what percentage of our income it takes to purchase that item today compared to earlier. Let’s look at purchasing a home.

The COST of a home is determined by three major components: price, mortgage interest rate, and wages. The big question? Are we paying a greater percentage of our income toward our monthly mortgage payment today than previous generations? Surprisingly, the answer is no.

Historically, Americans have paid just over 21% of their income toward their monthly mortgage payment.

Though home prices are higher than before, wages have risen as well. And, the most important component in the cost equation – the mortgage rate – is dramatically lower than it was in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

Today, according to the latest Home Affordability Index just released by the National Association of Realtors, Americans are paying 17.4% of their income toward their mortgage payment. That is much lower than the 21% average previous generations have paid.

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Bottom Line

The cost of purchasing a home today is a bargain compared to previous generations when we look at it from a percentage of income basis. However, with...

Buying a House This Year? This Should Be Your 1st Step!

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In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show that 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 not in an incredibly competitive market, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not 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 through this process. Once you have selected a lender,...

The Cost Across Time [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights:

  • With interest rates still around 4.5%, now is a great time to look back at where rates have been over the last 40 years.
  • Rates are projected to climb to 5.0% by this time next year according to Freddie Mac.
  • The impact your interest rate makes on your monthly mortgage cost is significant!
  • Lock in a low rate now while you can!
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The Best Time to List Your House? TODAY!

You may have heard that the housing market is softening. There is no doubt that buyer traffic has decreased. There are fewer purchasers in the market than there were last month and at this time last year. What you may not have heard, however, is that there is still a severe shortage of listing inventory in many regions of the country.

In a recent interview discussing the housing market, First American’s Chief Economist Mark Fleming put it simply:

“The biggest challenge is really the availability of supply.”

When we look at available inventory numbers released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we see that the actual number of homes for sale has decreased in each of the last five months.

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What does this mean to you as a seller?

The best time to sell is when there is less competition. That guarantees you a better price and fewer hassles in the transaction.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your house this year, the best time to put it on the market might be right now. Let’s get together to evaluate the demand for your house in our market!

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Is the Recent Dip in Interest Rates Here to Stay?

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage climbed consistently throughout 2018 until the middle of November. After that point, rates returned to levels that we saw in August to close out the year at 4.55%, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

After the first week of 2019, rates have continued their downward trend. As Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Sam Khater notes, this is great news for homebuyers. He states,

“Mortgage rates declined to start the new year with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipping to 4.51 percent. Low mortgage rates combined with decelerating home price growth should get prospective homebuyers excited to buy.”

In some areas of the country, the combination of rising interest rates and rising home prices had made some first-time buyers push pause on their home searches. But with more inventory coming to market, continued price growth, and interest rates slowing, this is a great time to get back in the market!

Will This Trend Continue?

According to the latest forecasts from Fannie Maethe Mortgage Bankers Associationand theNational Association of Realtors, mortgage rates will increase over the course of 2019, but not at the same pace they did in 2018. You can see the forecasts broken down by quarter below.

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Buying A Vacation Property? Now Is A Good Time!

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Every year around this time, many homeowners begin the process of preparing their homes in case of extreme winter weather. Some others skip winter all together by escaping to their vacation homes in a warmer climate.

For those homeowners staying at their first residence, AccuWeather warns:

“The late-week cold shot should fade next week, but this is a warning shot for winter’s return late in the month and early February.”

Given this, it’s time to go and stock up on winter weather supplies! However, if you’re tired of shoveling snow and dealing with the cold weather, maybe it’s time to consider obtaining a vacation home!

According to the Investment & Vacation Home Buyers 2018 Report by NAR:

72% of vacation property owners and 71% of investment property owners believe now is a good time to buy.”

It’s time to take advantage of the equity in your home. As the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions stated:

“Nearly 14.5 million U.S. properties (are) equity rich — where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of...

Want to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home? Use These 2 Tips!

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Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house?

Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW 

This may seem counterintuitive, but let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

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Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

HGTV gives this advice:

First impressions are everything when selling your home. Studies have shown that the first two weeks on the market are the most crucial to your success. During these initial days, your home will be exposed to all active buyers.

If your price is perceived as too high, you will quickly lose this initial audience and find yourself relying only on the trickle of new buyers entering the...

Top Renovations to Complete Before You Sell Your House [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights:

  • If you are planning on listing your house for sale this year, here are the top four home improvement projects that will net you the most Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Minor bathroom renovations can go a long way toward improving the quality of your everyday life and/or impressing potential buyers.
  • Upgrading your landscaping or curb appeal helps get buyers in the door. These upgrades rank as the 2nd and 4th best renovations for returns on investment.
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Belief in Homeownership as an Investment is Far from Dead

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Following last year’s real estate market was like riding a rollercoaster. The market started off strong in 2018 and then softened before finishing with a mild flurry. However, one thing that did not waiver was America’s belief that owning a home makes sense from a financial standpoint.

An end-of-the-year survey by the Federal Reserve Bank’s Center for Microeconomic Data revealed that:

“The majority of households continue to view housing as a good financial investment.”

And that percentage has increased over the last three years.

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Bottom Line

Though there is some uncertainty as to how the real estate market will perform over the next twelve months, one thing remains very certain: America’s belief in homeownership.

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Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here’s What to Watch

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As we kick off the new year, many families have made resolutions to enter the housing market in 2019. Whether you are thinking of finally ditching your landlord and buying your first home or selling your starter house to move into your forever home, there are two pieces of the real estate puzzle you need to watch carefully: interest rates & inventory.

Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates had been on the rise for much of 2018, but they made a welcome reversal at the end of the year. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates climbed to 4.94% in November before falling to 4.62% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage last week. Despite the recent drop, interest rates are projected to reach 5% in 2019.

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 to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a $400,000 home while keeping your principal and interest payments between $2,020-$2,050 a month.

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With each quarter of a percent increase...

Why You Should Not For Sale By Owner

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In today’s market, as home prices rise and a lack of inventory continues, 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 most sellers.

Here are the top five reasons:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers

According to NAR’s 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 95% of buyers searched online for a home last year. That is in comparison to only 13% of buyers 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?

  • 50% on the Internet
  • 28% from a real estate agent
  • 7% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by putting out a lawn sign or putting an ad 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...

Where is the Housing Market Headed in 2019? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights:

  • ­Interest rates are projected to increase steadily throughout 2019, but buyers will still be able to lock in a rate lower than their parents or grandparents did when they bought their homes!
  • Home prices will rise at a rate of 4.8% over the course of 2019 according to CoreLogic.
  • All four major reporting agencies believe that home sales will outpace 2018!
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24 Hours that Suddenly Improved the Market

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This year started strong for real estate, but then the market began to soften. Home inventory in the starter and move-up categories dwindled to almost nothing, mortgage rates were projected to rise, and home sales had decreased for several months in a row.

To many, the outlook heading into 2019 appeared dim… at best.

Then, in a 24-hour window last week, things seemed to change. On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) revealed in their Existing Homes Sales Report that home sales had INCREASED for the second consecutive month. The next day, NAR’s economic research team announced that the percentage of first-time buyers in the market was higher than last month and even higher than a year ago.

What happened to turn around the downward momentum in the market? 

You only needed to wait a few hours to find out. On the heels of NAR’s revelations, Zillow released their November Real Estate Market Report that explained:

“After nearly four years of annual declines in inventory, the number of homes for sale has now increased year-over-year for three straight months…”

Ending 2018, we now know two things:

  1. Listing inventory increased...

How to Save Thousands of Dollars in Interest on Your Mortgage

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One of the most common loans you can get to buy a home is a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. If the thought of paying for your home over the course of 30-years seems daunting, here are some easy ways to shorten that term which will actually end up saving you money over the life of your loan.

Any additional payments to the principal amount (the original sum of money borrowed in a loan), helps to cut down the amount of interest that you will pay over the life of your loan and can also help to shave years off the loan as well.

When you make ‘extra’ payments toward your loan, the key is to let your lender/bank know that you want the extra funds to go toward your principal balance as they will not automatically do this for you.

You don’t have to double your mortgage payment to make a big difference either!

If you have a 30-year mortgage on a median-priced home ($250,000) with a 5% interest rate, you’ll be responsible for a $1,342.05 monthly principal and interest payment. Over the course of the loan, if you pay your exact monthly payment, you will have paid $233,133.89 in interest alone!

Paying a Little Extra Can Pay Off Big

1. Pay an additional 1/12th of your mortgage payment every month

Benefit: In the example above, adding $111.84 to your monthly mortgage payment might not seem like a lot, but each year you will have paid one extra month’s worth of payments which will shorten the term of your loan by 4 years and 8 months, all while saving you $42,000 in interest!...

4 Quick Reasons NOT to Fear a Housing Crash

There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the real estate market heading into 2019. That uncertainty has raised concerns that we may be headed toward another housing crash like the one we experienced a decade ago.

Here are four reasons why today’s market is much different:

1. There are fewer foreclosures now than there were in 2006

A major challenge in 2006 was the number of foreclosures. There will always be foreclosures, but they spiked by over 100% prior to the crash. Foreclosures sold at a discount and, in many cases, lowered the values of adjacent homes. We are ending 2018 with foreclosures at historic pre-crashnumbers – much fewer foreclosures than we ended 2006 with.

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2. Most homeowners have tremendous equity in their homes

Ten years ago, many homeowners irrationally converted much, if not all, of their equity into cash with a cash-out refinance. When foreclosures rose and prices fell, they found themselves in a negative equity situation where their homes were worth less than their mortgage amounts. Many just walked away from their houses which led to even more foreclosures entering the market. Today is different. Over forty-eight percent of homeowners have at least 50% equity in their homesand they are not extracting their equity at the same rates they did in 2006.

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3. Lending standards are much tougher

One of the causes of the crash ten years ago was that...

Homeownership Remains a Huge Part of the American Dream

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As we head into 2019, many news outlets and housing experts warn that the housing market may slow down. Over the last six years, the inventory of homes for sale has been near historic lows, which has been the force behind increasing home prices.

This has been great news for sellers as many of them have been able to capitalize on the demand in the market and sell their homes quickly and at a great profit.

One of the big reasons why inventory has remained so low for so long is that an entire generation of home buyers is finally buying! The millennial generation (ages 19-35) has been the driving force behind bidding wars in many areas of the country as they ditch their renter lifestyles and put down roots in new communities.

First American recently released a study entitled “How ‘Renter’ Millennials Will Transform the Housing Market.” In their study, they explained that:

“…As more millennials age into their early-to-mid thirties, and begin to get married, have children and form households, they will continue to be the primary drivers of homeownership demand.”

Because of this, it is safe to say that one aspect of 2019’s housing market that WILL NOT slow down is the demand for housing from young renters who are no longer satisfied living in someone else’s homes.

According to the latest Housing Vacancies and Homeownership Report from the Census Bureau, home buyers under 35 are already out-buying...

Why Houses DO NOT Sell in a Strong Market

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As we approach the end of the year, many homeowners find themselves asking the question, “If we’re currently in a strong real estate market, why won’t my house sell?

Below are the 5 most common reasons why a listing contract will expire:

1. The Price

Sometimes when the market is hot, homeowners attempt to set their listing price higher. Their hope is that a motivated buyer will be willing to pay any price for a house in their desired neighborhood! Sellers must remember, though, that in today’s market a house must be sold twice; first to the buyer and then to their bank.

A buyer can agree to pay the homeowner’s asking price, but after the bank conducts their appraisal, the price might need to be adjusted. The bank will only give the buyer a mortgage for the value of determined in the appraisal.

Sellers must also keep in mind that today’s homebuyers are well-educated. Before they look to buy a house, they have already seen many houses online. They’ve done their research on the neighborhoods they are interested in, including information on the school districts in the area.

They will know if your house seems overpriced and will not waste their time considering it. This is why it’s so important to make sure that your home is priced right from day one on the market!

2. The Condition of the House...

5 Reasons to Sell This Winter!

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

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains 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 is still under the 6-month supply that is 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.

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