First Comes Love… Then Comes Mortgage?

According to the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, married couples once again dominated the first-time homebuyer statistics in 2016 at 58% of all buyers. It is no surprise that having two incomes to save for down payments and contribute to monthly housing costs makes buying a home more attainable.

But, many couples are also deciding to buy a home before spending what would be a down payment on a wedding, as unmarried couples made up 14% of all first-time buyers last year.

If you’re single, don’t fret! Single women made up 18% of first-time buyers in 2016, while single men accounted for 8% of buyers. One recent article pointed to a sense of responsibility and commitment that drives many single women to want to own their home, rather than rent.

Here is the breakdown of all first-time homebuyers in 2016 by percentage of all buyers, income, and age:

First Comes Love… Then Comes Mortgage? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

You may not be that much different than those who have already purchased their first homes. Let’s get together to determine if your dream home is already within your grasp!

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3 Questions to Ask If You Want to Buy Your Dream Home

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

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest 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 December (the latest data available) was $232,200, up 4.0% from last year. This increase also marks the 58th consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

If we look at the numbers year over year, CoreLogic forecasted a rise by 4.7% from December 2016 to December 2017. On a home that costs $250,000 today, that same home will cost you an additional $11,750 if you wait until next year.

What does that mean to you?

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

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

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5 Reasons to Love Using A RE Pro [INFOGRAPHIC]

5 Reasons to Love Using A RE Pro [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Highlights:

  • Hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the process of buying a home or selling your house can be one of the best decisions you make!
  • They are there for you to help with paperwork, explaining the process, negotiations, and helping you with pricing (both when making an offer or setting the right price for your home).
  • One of the top reasons to hire a real estate professional is their understanding of your local market and how the conditions in your neighborhood will impact your experience.

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The Impact of Homeownership on Educational Achievement

The Impact of Homeownership on Educational Achievement | Simplifying The Market

The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled ‘Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study confirmed a long-standing belief of most Americans:

“Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes.”

Today, we want to cover the section of the report that quoted several studies concentrating on the impact homeownership has on educational achievement. Here are some of the major findings on this issue revealed in the report:

  • The decision to stay in school by teenage students is higher for those raised by home-owning parents compared to those in renter households.
  • Parental homeownership in low-income neighborhoods has a positive impact on high school graduation.
  • Though homeownership raises educational outcomes for children, neighborhood stability may have further enhanced the positive outcome.
  • Children of homeowners tend to have higher levels of achievement in math and reading and fewer behavioral problems.
  • Educational opportunities are more prevalent in neighborhoods with high rates of homeownership and community involvement.
  • The average child of homeowners is significantly more likely to achieve a higher level of education and, thereby, a higher level of earnings.

Bottom Line

People often talk about the financial benefits of homeownership. As we can see, there are also social benefits of owning your own home.

*The next two Thursdays, we will report the study’s findings on the impact homeownership has on civic participation and a family’s health.

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Homeownership Offers Stability & Wealth Creation

Homeownership Offers Stability & Wealth Creation | Simplifying The Market

The most recent Housing Pulse Survey released by the National Association of Realtors revealed that the two major reasons Americans prefer owning their own home instead of renting are:

  1. They want the opportunity to build equity.
  2. They want a stable and safe environment.

Building Equity

In a recent article by The Mortgage Reports, they report that “buying and owning a home is the essence of ‘The American Dream.’ Each month, your housing payments go toward owning your home instead of renting it; building your personal wealth and assets instead of someone else’s.

History has shown that homeownership is a clear path to wealth-building, with homeowners boasting a net worth [that is] multiples higher than the net worth of renters.”  

Family Stability 

Does owning your home really create a more stable environment for your family?

survey of property managers conducted by rent.com disclosed two reasons tenants should feel less stable with their housing situation:

  • 68% of property managers predict that rental rates will continue to rise in the next year by an average of 8%.
  • 53% of property managers said that they were more likely to bring in a new tenant at a higher rate than to negotiate and renew a lease with a current tenant they already know.

We can see from these survey results that renting will provide anything but a stable environment in the near future.

Bottom Line

Homeowners enjoy a more stable environment, and at the same time are given the opportunity to build their family’s net worth.

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Lack of Homes for Sale Slowing Down the Housing Market

Lack of Homes for Sale Slowing Down the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up. Home sales are up. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen dramatically. It seems that 2017 will be the year that the housing market races forward again.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. While buyer demand looks like it will remain strong throughout the winter, supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

National Association of Realtors

“Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 10.8%…which is the lowest level since NAR began tracking the supply of all housing types in 1999. Inventory has fallen year-over-year for 19 straight months and is at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace.”

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for Realtor.com

“More than two-thirds of the markets are seeing less inventory now compared to a year ago.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

“The dismal number of listings in the affordable price range is squeezing prospective first-time buyers the most. As a result, young households are missing out on the wealth gains most homeowners have accrued from the 41% cumulative rise in existing home prices since 2011.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic

“The lack of affordable supply is really driving up home prices.”

Peter Muoio, Chief Economist at Auction.com

“Tight housing inventory remains a constraining factor limiting stronger sales growth…

We expect further price growth to entice more homeowners to list their homes, particularly as existing homeowners have greater equity.”

Bottom Line 

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.

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Daydreaming About Your Perfect Home? Know What You WANT vs. What You NEED

Daydreaming About Your Perfect Home? Know What You WANT vs. What You NEED | Simplifying The Market

In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is really important to know what you’re looking for when you start your home search.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a home of your own for some time now, you’ve probably come up with a list of things that you’d LOVE to have in your new home. Many new homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on television or Pinterest, and start looking at the countless homes listed for sale through rose-colored glasses.

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen in order to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

The first step in your home buying process should be to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it.

The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:

  • ‘Must Haves’ – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t even be considered. (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms)
  • ‘Should Haves’ – if the property hits all of the ‘must haves’ and some of the ‘should haves,’ it stays in contention but does not need to have all of these features.
  • ‘Absolute Wish List’ – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must haves,’ most of the ‘should haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s the winner!

Bottom Line

Having this list flushed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration, while also letting your agent know what features are most important to you before starting to show you houses in your desired area.

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5 Reasons Homeowners Throw Better Super Bowl Parties! [INFOGRAPHIC]

5 Reasons Homeowners Throw Better Super Bowl Parties! [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Highlights:

  • Watching the Big Game at home with your friends & family offers many advantages.
  • There’s more room to entertain a large crowd, and you don’t have to worry about complaints to your landlord if you cheer too loudly!
  • The kitchen is big enough to make as many appetizers as you want, and if some of your guests are only there to watch the commercials, they can do so on a different TV in another room!

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Buyer Demand Is Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale

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

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only six states had a weak 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, the majority of the country has weak Seller 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.

Buyer Demand Is 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 the 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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Thinking of Making an Offer? 4 Tips for Success

Thinking of Making an Offer? 4 Tips for Success | Simplifying The Market

So you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market that you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 Tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ really should take place before you start your home search process.

As we’ve mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.6-month supply; This is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:

“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”

Consider ways of making your offer stand out! Many buyers write a personal letter to the seller letting them know how much they would love to be the new homeowners. Your agent will be able to help you figure out if there are any other ways your offer could stand out above the rest.

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.

Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home. If the inspection uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can typically re-negotiate the terms or cancel the contract.”

Bottom Line 

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in their market is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!

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