Real Estate Is Still Considered the Best Long-Term Investment

Real Estate Is Still Considered the Best Long-Term Investment Simplifying The Market

With all the headlines circulating about home prices and rising mortgage rates, you may wonder if it still makes sense to invest in homeownership right now. A recent poll from Gallup shows the answer is yes. In fact, real estate was voted the best long-term investment for the 11th consecutive year, consistently beating other investment types like gold, stocks, and bonds (see graph below):

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, let this poll reassure you. Even with everything happening today, Americans recognize owning a home is a powerful financial decision.

Why Do Americans Still Feel So Positive About the Value of Investing in a Home?

Purchasing real estate has typically been a solid long-term strategy for building wealth in America. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), notes:

“. . . homeownership is a catalyst for building wealth for people from all walks of life. A monthly mortgage payment is often considered a forced savings account that helps homeowners build a net worth about 40 times higher than that of a renter.”

That’s because owning a home grows your net worth over time as your home appreciates in value and as you pay down your mortgage. And, since building that wealth takes time, it may make sense to start as soon as you can. If you wait to buy and keep renting, you’ll miss out on those monthly housing payments going toward your home equity.

Bottom Line

Buying a home is a powerful decision. So, it’s no wonder so many people view real estate as the best long-term investment. If you’re ready to start on your own journey toward homeownership, connect with a local real estate advisor today.

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Reasons To Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

Reasons To Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a perfect time to think about all the benefits that come with owning your home.
  • Owning a home not only makes you feel proud and accomplished, but it’s also a big step toward having a secure and stable financial future.
  • Are you ready to enjoy all the amazing advantages that come with owning a home? Get in touch with a local real estate agent to start the process today.

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The True Value of Homeownership

The True Value of Homeownership Simplifying The Market

Buying and owning your home can make a big difference in your life by bringing you joy and a sense of belonging. And with June being National Homeownership Month, it’s the perfect time to think about all the benefits homeownership provides. 

Of course, there are financial reasons to buy a house, but it’s important to consider the non-financial benefits that make a home more than just where you live.

Here are three ways owning your home can give you a sense of accomplishment, happiness, and pride. 

You May Feel Happier and More Fulfilled 

Owning a home is associated with better mental health and well-being. Gary Acosta, CEO and Co-Founder at the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), explains:

“Studies have shown the emotional and psychological benefits that homeownership has on a person’s health and self-esteem . . .”

Similarly, Habitat for Humanity says:

“Residential stability among homeowners is related to improved life satisfaction, . . . along with better physical and mental health.”

So, according to the experts, owning a home can improve your psychological wellness by making you feel happier and more accomplished.

You Can Engage in Your Neighborhood and Grow Your Sense of Community

Your home connects you to your community. Homeowners tend to stay in their homes longer than renters, and that can help you feel more connected to your community because you have more time to build meaningful relationships. And, as Acosta says, when people stay in the same area for a longer period of time, it can lead to them being more involved:

“Homeowners also tend to be more active in their local communities . . .”

After all, it makes sense that someone would want to help improve the area they’re going to be living in for a while.

You Can Customize and Improve Your Living Space

Your home is a place that’s all yours. When you own it, unless there are specific homeowner’s association requirements, you’re free to customize it however you see fit. Whether that’s small home improvements or full-on renovations, your house can be exactly what you want and need it to be. As your tastes and lifestyle change, so can your home. As Investopedia tells us:

“One often-cited benefit of homeownership is the knowledge that you own your little corner of the world. You can customize your house, remodel, paint, and decorate without the need to get permission from a landlord.

Renting can limit your ability to personalize your living space, and even if you do make changes, you may have to undo them before your lease ends. The ability homeownership gives you to customize and improve where you live creates a greater sense of ownership, pride, and connection with your home.

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Owning your home can change your life in a way that gives you greater satisfaction and happiness. Connect with a local real estate professional today if you’re ready to explore homeownership and all it has to offer.

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Keys to Success for First-Time Homebuyers

Keys to Success for First-Time Homebuyers Simplifying The Market

Buying your first home is an exciting decision and a major milestone that has the power to change your life for the better. As a first-time homebuyer, it’s a vision you can bring to life, but, as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shares, you’ll have to overcome some factors that have made it more challenging in recent years:

“Since 2011, the share of first-time home buyers has been under the historical norm of 40% as buyers face tight inventory, rising home prices, rising rents and high student debt loads.”

That said, if you’re looking to purchase your first home, here are two things you can consider to help make your dreams a reality.

Save Money with First-Time Homebuyer Programs

Being able to pay for the initial costs and fees associated with homeownership can feel like a major hurdle. Whether that’s getting a loan, being able to put together a down payment, or having money for closing costs – there are a variety of expenses that can make buying your first home feel challenging

Fortunately, there are a lot of public and private first-time homebuyer programs that can help you get a loan with little-to-no money upfront. CNET explains:

A first-time homebuyer program can help make homeownership more affordable and accessible by offering lower mortgage rates, down payment assistance and tax incentives.” 

In fact, as Bankrate says, many of these programs are offered by state and local governments:

Many states and local governments have programs that offer down payment or closing cost assistance – either low-interest-rate loans, deferred loans or even forgivable loans (aka grants) – to people looking to buy their first house . . .” 

To take advantage of these programs, contact the housing authority in your state and browse sites like Down Payment Resource.

The Supply of Homes for Sale Is Low, So Explore Every Possibility

It’s a sellers’ market, meaning there aren’t enough homes on the market to meet buyer demand. So, how can you be sure you’re doing everything you can to find a home that works for you? You can increase your options by considering condominiums (condos) and townhomes. U.S. News tells us these housing types are often less expensive than single-family homes:

Condos are usually less expensive than standalone houses . . . They are also less expensive to insure.”

One reason why they may be more affordable is because they’re often smaller. But they still give you the chance to get your foot in the door and achieve your dream of owning and building equity. Beyond that, another major perk is they typically require less maintenance. As U.S. News says in the same article:

The strongest reason for purchasing a condo is that all external maintenance is usually covered by the condo association, such as landscaping, pool maintenance, external painting, paving, plowing and more. This fee also covers some internal maintenance, such as gas, electric, plumbing, HVAC and other mechanical systems.” 

Townhomes and condos are great ways to get into homeownership. Owning your home allows you to build equity, increase your net worth, and can fuel a future move.

The best way to make sure you’re set up for success, especially if you’re just starting out, is to work with a trusted real estate agent. They can educate you on the homebuying process, help you understand your local area to find options that are right for you, and coach you through making an offer in a competitive market.

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Today’s housing market provides some challenges for first-time homebuyers. But, there are still ways to achieve your goals, like utilizing first-time homebuyer programs and considering all of your housing options. Connect with a local real estate professional so you have an expert on your side who can help you navigate the process.

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Owning a Home Helps Protect Against Inflation

Owning a Home Helps Protect Against Inflation Simplifying The Market

You’re probably feeling the impact of high inflation every day as prices have gone up on groceries, gas, and more. If you’re a renter, you’re likely experiencing it a lot as your rent continues to rise. Between all of those elevated costs and uncertainty about a potential recession, you may be wondering if it still makes sense to buy a home today. The short answer is – it does. Here’s why. 

Homeownership actually shields you from the rising costs inflation brings.

Freddie Mac explains how: 

“Not only will buying today help you begin to build equity, a fixed-rate mortgage can stabilize your monthly housing costs for the long-term even while other life expenses continue to rise – as has been the case the past few years.”

Unlike rents, which tend to rise with time, a fixed-rate mortgage payment is predictable over the life of the mortgage (typically 15 to 30 years). And, when the cost of most everything else is rising, keeping your housing payment stable is especially important.

The alternative to homeownership is renting – and rents tend to move alongside inflation. That means as inflation goes up, your monthly rent payments tend to go up, too (see graph below):

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to protect yourself from future rent hikes. With inflation still high, when your rental agreement comes up for renewal, your property manager may decide to increase your payments to offset the impact of inflation. Maybe that’s why, according to a recent survey, 73% of property managers plan to raise rents over the next two years.

 Having your largest monthly expense remain stable in a time of economic uncertainty is a major perk of homeownership. If you continue to rent, you don’t have that same benefit and aren’t as protected from rising costs.

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A stable housing payment is especially important in times of high inflation. Connect with a real estate agent so you can learn more and start your journey to homeownership today.

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Why Buyers Need an Expert Agent by Their Side

Why Buyers Need an Expert Agent by Their Side Simplifying The Market

The process of buying a home can feel a bit intimidating, even under normal circumstances. But today’s market is still anything but normal. There continues to be a very limited number of homes for sale, and that’s creating bidding wars and driving home prices back up as buyers compete over the available homes.

Navigating all of this can be daunting if you’re trying to do it alone. That’s why having a skilled expert to guide you through the homebuying process is essential, especially today. Bankrate shares this perspective: 

“Advice and guidance from a professional real estate agent can be invaluable, particularly amid a hot or unpredictable housing market.”

Here are just a few of the ways a real estate expert makes a big difference: 

  • Experience – Real estate professionals know the ins and outs of what’s happening today, how it impacts buyers, and how to navigate any hurdles that may pop up.
  • Education – Knowledge is power when it comes to buying a home. Your advisor will simply and effectively explain market conditions and translate what they mean for you so you can feel confident in your decision. 
  • Negotiations – Your real estate advisor advocates for your best interests. Having an expert on your side provides assistance with the purchase agreement. An agent can also help you negotiate potential seller concessions if the inspection reveals issues with the home.  
  • Contracts – Real estate advisors guide you through the disclosures and contracts necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment. 
  • PricingMaking an offer and negotiating with a seller can be one of the most difficult and stressful parts of the homebuying process. A skilled agent will help you understand what similar homes are selling for so you have the full picture of what you may want to offer.

All of these reasons combined may be why 86% of recent buyers used an agent according to the latest Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR also has this to say about why an agent is so essential today: 

“A great real estate agent will guide you through the home search with an unbiased eye, helping you meet your buying objectives while staying within your budget. Agents are also a great source when you have questions about local amenities, utilities, zoning rules, contractors, and more.” 

What’s the Key To Choosing the Right Expert?

It starts with trust. You’ll want to know you can trust the advice they’re giving you, so you need to make sure you’re connected with a true professional. No one can provide perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen at every turn – especially in today’s market. But a true professional can give you the best possible advice based on the information and situation at hand. 

They’ll help advocate for you throughout the process and coach you on the essential knowledge you need to make confident decisions. That’s exactly what you want and deserve. 

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It’s critical to have an expert on your side who is skilled in navigating today’s housing market. If you’re planning to buy a home this year, connect with a real estate advisor who will give you the best advice and guide you along the way.

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Why Buying a Home Makes More Sense Than Renting Today

Why Buying a Home Makes More Sense Than Renting Today Simplifying The Market

Wondering if you should continue renting or if you should buy a home this year? If so, consider this. Rental affordability is still a challenge and has been for years. That’s because, historically, rents trend up over time. Data from the Census shows rents have been climbing pretty steadily since 1988. 

And, data from the latest rental report from Realtor.com shows rents continue to grow today, even though it’s at a slower pace than we saw at the height of the pandemic:

“In March 2023, the U.S. rental market experienced single-digit growth for the eighth month in a row . . . The median asking rent was $1,732, up by $15 from last month and down by $32 from the peak but is still $354 (25.7%) higher than the same time in 2019 (pre-pandemic).”

With rents much higher now than they were in more normal, pre-pandemic years, owning your home may be a better option, especially if the long-term trend of rents increasing each year continues. In contrast, homeowners with a fixed-rate mortgage can lock in a monthly mortgage payment for the duration of their loan (typically 15-30 years). 

Owning a Home Could Be More Affordable if You Need More Space

The graph below uses national data on the median rental payment from Realtor.com and median mortgage payment from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to compare the two options. As the graph shows, depending on how much space you need, it’s typically more affordable to own than to rent if you need two or more bedrooms:

So, if you’re looking to live somewhere where you have two or more bedrooms to accommodate your household, give you more breathing room to spread out your belongings, or dedicate the extra space to practice your hobbies, it might make sense to consider homeownership.

Homeownership Allows You To Start Building Equity

In addition to shielding you from rising rents and being more affordable when you need more space, owning your home also allows you to start building your own equity, which in turn grows your net worth. 

And, as home values typically rise over time and you pay off your mortgage, you build equity. That equity can set you up for success later on because you can use it to help fuel a move to an even bigger space down the line. That’s why, according to Zonda, the top reason millennial homeowners bought their home over the past year was to build their own equity instead of someone else’s.

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If you’re trying to decide whether to buy a home or continue renting, work with a trusted real estate agent to explore your options. With rents rising, it may make more sense to pursue your dream of homeownership.

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Ways To Overcome Affordability Challenges in Today’s Housing Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

Ways To Overcome Affordability Challenges in Today’s Housing Market [INFOGRAPHIC] Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • With so few homes on the market right now, widening the scope of your search to include nearby areas could help you find more options in your budget.
  • You can also work with a trusted lender to consider alternative financing options and search for down payment assistance.
  • If you’ve been searching for a home but are concerned about rising costs, make sure you have a team of trusted real estate professionals for expert advice.

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The Three Factors Affecting Home Affordability Today

The Three Factors Affecting Home Affordability Today Simplifying The Market

There’s been a lot of focus on higher mortgage rates and how they’re creating affordability challenges for today’s homebuyers. It’s true that rates climbed dramatically since the record-low we saw during the pandemic. But home affordability is based on more than just mortgage rates – it’s determined by a combination of mortgage rates, home prices, and wages.

Considering how each one of these factors is changing gives you the full picture of home affordability today. Here’s the latest.

1. Mortgage Rates

While mortgage rates are higher than they were a year ago, they’ve hovered primarily between 6% and 7% for nearly eight months now (see graph below):

As the graph shows, mortgage rates have experienced some volatility during that time. And even a small change in mortgage rates impacts your purchasing power. That’s why it’s so important to lean on your team of real estate professionals for expert advice to stay up to date on what’s happening in the market. While it’s hard to project where mortgage rates will go from here, many experts agree they’ll likely continue to remain around 6%-7% in the immediate future. 

2. Home Prices

Over the past few years, home prices appreciated rapidly as the record-low mortgage rates we saw during the pandemic led to a surge in buyer demand. The heightened buyer demand happened while the supply of homes for sale was at record lows, and that imbalance put upward pressure on home prices. However, today’s higher mortgage rates have slowed down price appreciation.

And, the truth is, home price appreciation varies by market. Some areas are seeing slight declines while others have prices that are climbing. As Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains:

“The divergence in home price changes across the U.S. reflects a tale of two housing markets. Declines in the West are due to the tech industry slowdown and a severe lack of affordability after decades of undersupply. The consistent gains in the Southeast and South reflect strong job markets, in-migration patterns and relative affordability due to new home construction.”

To find out what’s happening with prices in your local market, reach out to a trusted real estate agent.

3. Wages

The most positive factor in affordability right now is rising income. The graph below uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to show how wages have grown over time: 

Higher wages improve affordability because they reduce the percentage of your income it takes to pay your mortgage since you don’t have to put as much of your paycheck toward your monthly housing cost.

Home affordability comes down to a combination of rates, prices, and wages. If you have questions or want to learn more, reach out to a real estate professional who can explain what’s happening locally and how these factors work together.

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If you’re planning to buy a home, knowing the key factors that impact affordability is important so you can make an informed decision. To stay up to date on the latest on each, connect with a trusted real estate professional today.

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The Power of Pre-Approval

The Power of Pre-Approval Simplifying The Market

If you’re buying a home this spring, today’s housing market can feel like a challenge. With so few homes on the market right now, plus higher mortgage rates, it’s essential to have a firm grasp on your homebuying budget. You’ll also need a sense of determination to find the right house and act quickly when you go to put in an offer. One thing you can do to help you prepare is to get pre-approved.

To understand why it’s such an important step, you need to know what pre-approval is. As part of the process, a lender looks at your finances to determine what they’d be willing to loan you. From there, your lender will give you a pre-approval letter to help you understand how much money you can borrow.

Freddie Mac explains it like this:

A pre-approval is an indication from your lender that they are willing to lend you a certain amount of money to buy your future home. . . . Keep in mind that the loan amount in the pre-approval letter is the lender’s maximum offer. Ultimately, you should only borrow an amount you are comfortable repaying.”

Basically, pre-approval gives you critical information about the homebuying process that’ll help you understand how much you may be able to borrow so you have a stronger grasp of your options. And with higher mortgage rates impacting affordability for many buyers today, a solid understanding of your numbers is even more important.

Pre-Approval Helps Show You’re a Serious Buyer

That’s not the only thing pre-approval can do. Another added benefit is it can help a seller feel more confident in your offer because it shows you’re serious about buying their house. And, with sellers seeing a slight increase in the number of offers again this spring, making a strong offer when you find the perfect house is key.

As a recent article from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says:

If you plan to use a mortgage for your home purchase, preapproval should be among the first steps in your search process. Not only can getting preapproved help you zero in on the right price range, but it can give you a leg up on other buyers, too.”

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Getting pre-approved is an important first step when you’re buying a home. It lets you know what you can borrow for your loan and shows sellers you’re serious. Connect with a local real estate professional and a trusted lender so you have the tools you need to purchase a home in today’s market.

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