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Be Careful Not to Get Caught in The Rental Trap!

mouse trap picture

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top benefits is being able to protect yourself from rising rents by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped

A recent article by ConsumerAffairs addressed the continuous rise in rents, stating:

“The cost of putting a roof over your head continues to go up. Not only are home prices still rising, but the cost of rent rose 0.5% in June.”

Additionally, in the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University’s 2017 State of the Nation’s Housing Report, it was revealed that,

“Despite a slight improvement from 2014, fully one-third of US households paid more than 30 percent of their incomes for housing in 2015. Renters continue to be more likely to face cost burdens…the number of cost-burdened renters (21 million) considerably outstrips the number of cost-burdened owners (18 million) even though nearly two-thirds of US households own their homes.”

These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, including groceries and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

As we have previously mentioned, the results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia shows that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100...

Buyer Demand Continues Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as the 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 traffic map

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only three 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, 21 states report a ‘weak’ sellers traffic, 25 states report a ‘stable’ sellers traffic, only 4 states and DC report a ‘strong’ sellers traffic. Meaning there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes.

seller traffic map


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 the buyer demand, prices will continue...

Inventory Drops Again, Sales Slow [INFOGRAPHIC]

inventory drops

Highlights:

  • Existing Home Sales are now at an annual pace of 5.52 million.
  • Inventory of existing homes for sale dropped to a 4.3-month supply, marking the 25th month in a row of declines.
  • The median price of homes sold in June was $263,800. This is the 64th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.
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Americans Still Believe Real Estate is Best Long-Term Investment

According to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index Poll, Americans who have money to set aside for the next 10 years would rather invest in real estate than any other type of investment.

Bankrate asked Americans to answer the following question:

“What is the best way to invest money you wouldn’t need for 10 years or more?”

Real Estate came in as the top choice with 28% of all respondents (3% higher than last year), while cash investments – such as savings accounts and CD’s – came in second with 23% (the same as last year). The chart below shows the full results:

investment chart

The article points out several reasons for these results:

“After bottoming out at the end of 2011 following the worst housing collapse in generations, home prices have gone gangbusters recently, climbing back above their record pre-crisis levels. Prices jumped 6.6 percent during the 12 months that ended in May, according to CoreLogic.

Toss in persistently low interest rates, tax goodies that come with owning a mortgage, and the psychological payoff from planting your roots, and maybe it’s no wonder real estate remains popular.”

The article also revealed that:

“Bankrate’s Financial Security Index — based on survey questions about how people feel about their debt, savings, net worth, job security and overall financial situation — has hit its third-highest level since the poll’s inception in December 2010.”

Bottom Line

We have often...

A ‘Buyer’ in Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

house for sale

In today’s highly competitive seller’s market where there are more buyers than there are homes for them to buy, some sellers may feel like the ball is in their court.

And they would be right when it comes to choosing which offer to accept, the closing date, or even which improvements they are willing to make to their house prior to selling.

One thing to remember though, is that there is always a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

Interest rates can change, financing might not go through, the appraisal might not come back at the price that you have agreed to. These are all opportunities to work with your buyer to make sure that the sale still happens.

You may think that, because buyer demand is so high right now, you can choose to make your buyer jump through hoops. But what happens if they reach their limit and need to walk away? You’re starting over… weeks, maybe months later… and other buyers may wonder what’s wrong with the house since the last deal fell through.

The Golden Rule

We were all taught from a young age to “treat others as you would like to be treated.” This shouldn’t change once you have a buyer who seems as though they would do anything to buy your home.

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Rising Home Prices Mean Great News for Homeowners

Recently there has been a lot of talk about home prices and if they are accelerating too quickly. As we mentioned before, in some areas of the country, seller supply (homes for sale) cannot keep up with the number of buyers who are out looking for homes, which has caused prices to rise.

The great news about rising prices, however, is that according to CoreLogic’s Homeowner Equity Report, the average American household gained over $14,000 in equity over the course of the last year, largely due to home value increases.

The map below was created using the same report from CoreLogic and shows the average equity gain per mortgaged home during the 1st quarter of 2017 (the latest data available).

average equity gained map

For those who are worried that we are doomed to repeat 2006 all over again, it is important to note that homeowners are investing their new-found equity in their homes and themselves, not in depreciating assets.

The added equity is helping families put their children through college, invest in starting small businesses, pay off their mortgages sooner and even move up to the home that will better suit their needs now.

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner looking to take advantage of your home equity by moving up to your dream home, let’s get together to discuss your options!

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U.S. Housing Inventory Hits a New Low… List Your House TODAY!

Every summer, families across the country decide if this will be the year they sell their current house and move into their dream home.

Mortgage rates have hovered around 4% for all of 2017, forcing buyers off the fence and into the market, resulting in incredibly strong demand RIGHT NOW!! At the same time, inventory levels of homes for sale have dropped dramatically as compared to this time last year.

Trulia reported that U.S. home inventory has tumbled 8.9% over the past year and has now fallen for nine consecutive quarters.” There is now 20% less inventory than there was five years ago.

Here is a chart showing the decrease in inventory levels by category:

2017 2nd quarter compared to 2016 2nd quarter

Bottom Line

Demand for your home is very strong right now while your competition (other homes for sale) is at a historically low level. If you are thinking of selling in 2017, now may be the perfect time.

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

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

darts on a dart board

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....

Thinking of Selling? You Should Act NOW!

car driving into sunset

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...

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your Dream Home

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)...

Home Buying Myths Slayed [INFOGRAPHIC]

Myths About Buying a Home

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

homeownership

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.”

Homeownership can help you build equity over time.
Your monthly payments will remain stable.
You may have some tax benefits.
You can take pride in ownership.
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 ...

Homeowners: Your Home Must Be Sold TWICE

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.

Home Values Chart

Bottom line

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The High Impact of Low Interest Rates on Your Purchasing Power

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.

buyers purchasing power chart

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!

Do not for sale by owner

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...

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

map of days on 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

magnifying glass searching for homes

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

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.

30 year fixed rate chart

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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