What You Need To Know if You’re Thinking About Building a Home

What You Need To Know if You’re Thinking About Building a Home | Simplifying The Market

If you’re ready to move up, you may be trying to decide whether you want to buy a home that’s already on the market or build a new one. And since the supply of homes available for sale today is low, you’re willing to consider either avenue. While home builders are doing everything they can to construct more houses and help narrow the supply shortage, they’re also facing delays due to factors outside of their control.

Here’s the latest on some of the key challenges homebuilders are experiencing today and how they could impact your plans to move up. When you know what’s happening in the industry, you can make an informed decision on whether to look for a newly built or an existing home in your home search.

Supply Chain Issues

The first hurdle builders are dealing with is the lack of supply of various building materials. According to a recent article from HousingWire:

. . . Nearly everything needed in the homebuilding process is facing some sort of delay and subsequent price increase.”

The supply issue isn’t just with lumber, even though that’s what’s covered most in the news. The article explains many other supplies are impacted too, including roofing materials, windows, garage doors, siding, and gypsum (which is used in drywall).

The difficulty in getting these items is dragging out timelines for new homes as builders wait on what they need to finish construction. And since materials are in short supply, even when they do get the product, the principle of supply and demand is driving prices up for those goods. HousingWire explains it like this:

When supplies are low, charges inevitably go up, . . . Meanwhile, a lack of availability is causing huge delays, meaning builders are struggling to stay on schedule.”

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) agrees:

Builders are grappling with supply-chain issues that are extending construction times and increasing costs.”

Skilled Labor Shortage

But that’s not the only challenge with new home construction today. Builders are also having a hard time finding skilled labor, which means they’re short-handed, further dragging out their timelines. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, says this is an ongoing challenge for the industry:

The skilled labor shortage in the construction industry is not new – it’s been an issue for more than a decade now.”

But there is good news. The February jobs report shows employment gains in the construction industry. Kushi puts this encouraging news into perspective in the article mentioned above:

“Overall this was a good report, . . . The supply of workers continues to fall short of demand, but the underlying momentum of the labor market recovery is strong, and falling COVID case counts provide further forward momentum.”

That means, while finding workers continues to be a challenge for builders, there are signs of positive momentum moving forward.

How This Impacts You

HousingWire explains how these things can impact move-up buyers today:

The residential construction industry is facing a crisis as builders manage the critical shortage of building materials and labor. Explosive supply and labor costs are forcing long delays. . . .” 

So, when you weigh your options and try to decide between building a home or buying an existing one, factor the potential delay in new home construction into your decision. While it doesn’t mean you should cross newly built homes off your list, it does mean you should consider your timeline and if you’re willing to wait while your home is being constructed.

Bottom Line

When planning your next move, understanding the latest market conditions is key to making the best decision possible. To make sure you have all the information you need, let’s connect. Together we can make sure you know what’s happening in our local market so you can confidently decide what’s right for you, your priorities, and your timeline.

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Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market?

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market? | Simplifying The Market

For the first time in a long time, the number of newly listed homes is beginning to rise. In their latest monthly release, realtor.com reveals the number of existing homes entering the market has increased for two months in a row (this comes after six months of declines). Here’s a graph showing the monthly new listings going back to January of last year. The green bars indicate the first gains since June.

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market? | Simplifying The Market

However, buying demand is still outpacing housing supply.

Though the increase in homes coming to the market is great news for prospective homebuyers, the number of buyers is still outpacing the number of homes available for sale. As realtor.com explains in their latest report:

“During the final two weeks of the month, more new sellers entered the market than during the same time last year. . . . However, with 5.8 million new homes missing from the market and millions of millennials at first-time buying ages, housing supply faces a long road to catching up with demand.

In fact, according to the latest ShowingTime Showing Index, which tracks the average number of appointments received on active listings during the month, buyer demand was greater this January than any other January in the last five years (see graph below):

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market? | Simplifying The Market

This prompted ShowingTime to say:

“The latest data from ShowingTime . . . shows a surge in home buyer demand in January. . . . This enormous activity occurred in a month when buyer activity typically slows and followed a historic 2021, where buyer demand across the country was extraordinarily strong.”

What does that mean for you?

Basically, as homes come to the market, they are quickly being purchased by eagerly awaiting buyers. So even though the number of newly listed homes is increasing, the number of active listings is still shrinking every month because buyers are purchasing homes almost as soon as they come up for sale. That means listings are coming on and off the market so fast that they don’t carry over to be counted in the active listing numbers the following month. Here’s a graph showing the number of active listings each month since last January using data released by realtor.com:

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market? | Simplifying The Market

This graph shows that the number of active listings has decreased for each of the last five months even though the number of newly listed homes has increased over the last two months.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re looking to upgrade to a home that will better suit your lifestyle or looking to purchase your first house, let’s connect so you can stay updated on what’s happening in your area. And be prepared to move immediately if a home fitting your needs hits the market. Your dream home may be one of those new listings that just became available, but if you don’t act quickly, it could be gone tomorrow.

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Don’t Get Caught Off Guard by Closing Costs

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard by Closing Costs | Simplifying The Market

As a homebuyer, it’s important to plan and budget for the expenses you’ll encounter when you purchase a home. While most people understand the need to save for a down payment, a recent survey found 41% of homebuyers were surprised by their closing costs. Here’s some information to help you get started so you’re not caught off guard when it’s time to close on your home.

What Are Closing Costs?

One possible reason some people are surprised by closing costs may be because they don’t know what they are or what they cover. According to U.S. News and World Report:

“Closing costs encompass a variety of expenses above your property’s purchase price. They include things like lender fees, title insurance, government processing fees, upfront tax payments and homeowners insurance.”

In other words, your closing costs are a collection of fees and payments made to a variety of individuals and organizations who are involved with your transaction. According to Freddie Mac, while they can vary by location and situation, closing costs typically include:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting Fees

How Much Will You Need To Budget for Closing Costs?

Understanding what closing costs include is important, but knowing what you’ll need to budget to cover them is critical to achieving your homebuying goals. According to the Freddie Mac article mentioned above, the costs to close are typically between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of your home. With that in mind, here’s how you can get an idea of what you’ll need to cover your closing costs.

Let’s say you find a home you want to purchase for the median price of $350,300. Based on the 2-5% Freddie Mac estimate, your closing fees could be between roughly $7,000 and $17,500.

Keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above or below this price range, your closing costs will be higher or lower.

What’s the Best Way To Make Sure You’re Prepared at Closing Time?

Freddie Mac provides great advice for homebuyers, saying:

As you start your homebuying journey, take the time to get a sense of all costs involved – from your down payment to closing costs.”

The best way to understand what you’ll need at the closing table is to work with a team of trusted real estate professionals. An agent can help connect you with a lender, and together they can provide you with answers to the questions you might have.

Bottom Line

In today’s real estate market, it’s more important than ever to make sure your budget includes any fees and payments due at closing. Let’s connect so you have the knowledge you need to be confident going into the homebuying process.

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This Spring Presents Sellers with a Golden Opportunity

This Spring Presents Sellers with a Golden Opportunity | Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking of selling your house this year, timing is crucial. After all, you’ll want to balance getting the most out of the sale of your current home and making the best investment when you buy your next one.

If that’s the case, you should know – you may be able to get the best of both worlds today. Here are four reasons why this spring may be your golden window of opportunity.

1. The Number of Homes on the Market Is Still Low

Today’s limited supply of houses for sale is putting sellers in the driver’s seat. There are far more buyers in the market today than there are homes available. That means purchasers are eagerly waiting for your house.

Listing your house now makes it the center of attention. And if you work with a real estate professional to price your house correctly, you can expect it to sell quickly and likely get multiple strong offers this season.

2. Your Equity Is Growing in Record Amounts

According to the most recent Homeowner Equity Insight report from CoreLogic, homeowners are sitting on record amounts of equity thanks to recent home price appreciation. The report finds that the average homeowner has gained $55,300 in equity over the past year.

That much equity can open doors for you to make a move. If you’ve been holding off on selling because you’re worried about how rising prices will impact your next home search, rest assured your equity can help fuel your move. It may be just what you need to cover a large portion – if not all – of the down payment on your next home.

3. Mortgage Rates Are Increasing

While it’s true mortgage rates have already been climbing this year, current mortgage rates are still below what they’ve been in recent decades. In the 2000s, the average mortgage rate was 6.27%. In the 1990s, the average rate was 8.12%.

For context, the current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate, according to Freddie Mac, is 3.85%. And while recent global uncertainty caused rates to dip slightly in the near-term, experts project rates will rise in the months ahead. Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, says:

“For homebuyers, we believe that borrowing costs will likely rise with the increase in mortgage rates….”

When that happens, it’ll cost you more to purchase your next home. That’s why it’s important to act now if you’re ready to sell. Work with a trusted advisor to kickstart the process so you can take key steps to making your next purchase before rates climb further.

4. Home Prices Are Climbing Too

Home prices have been skyrocketing in recent years because of the imbalance of supply and demand. And as long as that imbalance continues, so will the rise in home values.

What does that mean for you? If you’re selling so you can move into the home of your dreams or downsize into something that better suits your current needs, you have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve by leveraging your growing equity and purchasing your next home before prices climb higher.

And, once you make your purchase, you can find peace of mind in knowing ongoing home price appreciation is growing the value of your new investment.

Bottom Line

If you want to win when you sell and when you buy, this spring could be your golden opportunity. Let’s connect so you have the insights you need to take advantage of today’s incredible sellers’ market.

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Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Knowing key housing terms and how they relate to today’s market is important. For example, when mortgage rates and home prices rise, it impacts how much home you can afford.
  • Terms like appraisal (what lenders rely on to validate a home’s value) and the inspection contingency (which gives buyers essential information on a home’s condition) directly impact the transaction.
  • Buying a home can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the terms used throughout the process. Let’s connect so you have an expert guide and advice for any questions that may come up.

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How To Navigate a Market Where Multiple Offers Is the New Normal

How To Navigate a Market Where Multiple Offers Is the New Normal | Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking of buying a home today, you already know that the number of homes available for sale is low. But what does that really mean for you? As a buyer, low housing supply coupled with high buyer demand means you should be prepared to navigate a highly competitive market where homes sell fast and get multiple offers. Realtor.com has this to say:

“Homes also flew off the market at record pace as buyers put offers in the moment properties came up for sale….”

In a bidding war situation like this, doing everything you can to get ahead of the competition is a wise move. That’s because when you find a house and submit an offer, it’ll likely be up against strong offers from other buyers. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes today are receiving an average of 3.9 offers. That’s the most offers we’ve seen in January for the last 5 years (see graph below):

How To Navigate a Market Where Multiple Offers Is the New Normal | Simplifying The Market

To help you navigate bidding wars with multiple offers, an expert real estate advisor is key. They know what’s worked for other buyers, what sellers are looking for, and how to help you prepare when it comes time to make an offer. Here are three tips to keep in mind that will help you make the best offer possible.

1. Know Your Numbers​

Knowing your budget and what you can afford is critical to your success as a homebuyer. The best way to understand your numbers is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a loan. Pre-approval shows sellers you’re serious, which can give you a competitive edge. You should also know making an offer at the home’s asking price may not be enough. Homes today often sell for more than their listing price. An agent can help you understand the market value of the home and what other homes are selling for in your area.

2. Be Ready To Move Fast​

Speed and the pace of sales are contributing factors to today’s competitive housing market. When homes are selling fast, it’s important to stay on top of the market and be ready to move quickly. Your agent will help you stay up to date on the latest listings and help you put together your best offer as soon as you find the home you want to buy.​

3. Make a Strong but Fair Offer​

​When you’re up against other offers, putting your best offer forward from the start is key. Lean on your agent to write a strong offer and use their expertise on which levers you can pull to make your offer as enticing as possible. One option is to wave some of your contract contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Just remember there are certain contingencies you don’t want to give up, like the home inspection.

Bottom Line

No matter what, your agent is your best resource for making an offer that stands out in a competitive market. Let’s connect to talk through what you can expect as a buyer and how to kick off a successful home search.

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Key Factors That Impact Affordability Today

Key Factors That Impact Affordability Today | Simplifying The Market

You can’t read an article about residential real estate without the author mentioning the affordability challenges that today’s buyers face. There’s no doubt homes are less affordable today than they were over the last two years, but that doesn’t mean homes are now unaffordable.

There are three measures used to establish home affordability: home prices, mortgage rates, and wages. Let’s look closely at each of these components.

1. Home Prices

The most recent Home Price Insights report by CoreLogic shows home values have increased by 19.1% from last January to this January. That was one reason affordability declined over the past year.

2. Mortgage Rates

While the current global uncertainty makes it difficult to project mortgage rates, we do know current rates are almost one full percentage point higher than they were last year. According to Freddie Mac, the average monthly rate for last February was 2.81%. This February it was 3.76%. That increase in the mortgage rate also contributes to homes being less affordable than they were last year.

3. Wages

The one big, positive component in the affordability equation is an increase in American wages. In a recent article by RealtyTrac, Peter Miller addresses that point:

“Prices are up, but what about wages? ADP reports that job holder incomes increased 5.9% last year but rose 8.0% for those who switched employers. In effect, some of the higher cost to buy a home has been offset by more cash income.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also recently released information that looks at income and affordability. The NAR data provides a comparison of the current median family income versus the qualifying income for a median-priced home in each region of the country. Here’s a graph of their findings:

Key Factors That Impact Affordability Today | Simplifying The Market

As the graph shows, the median family income (shown in blue on the graph) is greater than the qualifying income needed to buy a median-priced home (shown in green on the graph) in all four regions of the country. While those figures may vary in certain locations within each region, it’s important to note that, in most of the country, homes are still affordable.

So, when you think about affordability, remember that the picture includes more than just home prices and mortgage rates. When prices rise and rates rise, it does impact affordability, and experts project both of those things will climb in the months ahead. That’s why it’s less affordable to buy a home than it was over the past two years when prices and rates were lower than they are today. But wages need to be factored into affordability as well. Because wages have been rising, they’re a big reason that, while less affordable, homes are not unaffordable today.

Bottom Line

To find out more about affordability in our local area, let’s discuss where home prices are locally, what’s happening with mortgage rates, and get you in contact with a lender so you can make an informed financial decision. Remember, while less affordable, homes are not unaffordable, which still gives you an opportunity to buy today.

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Are Home Prices Continuing To Rise?

Are Home Prices Continuing To Rise? | Simplifying The Market

Many analysts projected home price appreciation would slow dramatically in the fall of 2021 and then continue to soften throughout 2022. So far, that hasn’t happened. The major price indices are all revealing ongoing double-digit price appreciation. Here’s a look at their reports on year-over-year price appreciation for December:

To show that they’re not seeing signs of softening, here’s a graph that gives the progression of all three indices for each month of 2021.

Are Home Prices Continuing To Rise? | Simplifying The Market

As the graph above reveals, last year, home price appreciation accelerated dramatically from January to July according to all three indices. Then, it began to decelerate in August when prices appreciated at a slower pace, but it didn’t decline. Many thought that would be the beginning of a rapid slowdown in the level of home price appreciation, but as the data shows, that wasn’t the case. Instead, prices began to level off for a few months before two of the three indices saw appreciation re-accelerate again in December.

To clarify, deceleration is not the same as depreciation. Acceleration means prices rise at a greater year-over-year pace than the previous month. Deceleration means home values continue to rise but at a slower pace of year-over-year appreciation. Depreciation means prices drop below current values. No one is forecasting that to happen.

In fact, the FHFA revealed that price appreciation accelerated in December in six of the nine regions it tracks. Case Shiller showed that appreciation accelerated in 15 of the 20 metros they report on. As Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains:

“After some signs of slowing home price growth . . . monthly price growth re-accelerated again, indicating home buyers have not yet thrown in the towel.”

What Does This Mean for You?

Whether you’re a first-time purchaser or someone looking to sell your current house and buy a home that better fits your needs, waiting to decide what to do will cost you in two ways:

  1. Mortgage rates are forecast to rise this year.
  2. Home prices should continue to appreciate at double-digit levels for some time.

If you wait, rising mortgage rates and high home price appreciation will have a dramatic impact on your monthly mortgage payment.

Bottom Line

Maybe the best thing to do is listen to the advice of Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

If you’re thinking about waiting until next year and that maybe rates are higher, but you’ll get a deal on prices – well that’s risky. It may be more advantageous to purchase this year relative to waiting until 2023 at this time.”

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Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

For many homebuyers, the thought of saving for a down payment can feel daunting, especially in today’s market. That’s why, when asked what they find most difficult in the homebuying process, some buyers say it’s one of the hardest steps on the path to homeownership. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows:

“For first-time home buyers, 29 percent said saving for a downpayment [sic] was the most difficult step in the process.

If you’re finding that your down payment is your biggest hurdle, the good news is there are many down payment assistance programs available that can help you achieve your goals. The key is understanding where to look and learning what options are available. Here’s some information that can help.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

According to downpaymentresource.com, there are thousands of financial assistance programs available for homebuyers, like affordable mortgage options for first-time buyers. But, of the many programs that are available, down payment assistance options make up the large majority. They say 73% of the assistance available to homebuyers is there to help you with your down payment.

And it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for these programs. Downpaymentresource.com notes:

“You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 38% of all programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

That means no matter where you are in your homeownership journey, there could be an option available for you.

There Are Local Programs and Specialized Programs for Public Servants

There are also multiple down payment assistance resources designed to help those who serve our communities. Teacher Next Door is one of those programs:

“The Teacher Next Door Program was designed to increase home ownership among teachers and other public servants, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.”

Teacher Next Door is just one program that seeks to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and veterans reach their down payment goals.

And, most importantly, even if you don’t qualify for these types of specialized programs, there are many federal, state, and local programs available for you to explore. And the best way to do that is to connect with a local real estate professional to learn more about what’s available in your area.

Bottom Line

If saving for a down payment seems daunting, there are programs available that can help. And if you work to serve our community, there may be even more opportunities available to you. To learn more about your options, let’s connect so you can start your homebuying journey today.

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Millennials: Do You Need a Home with More Space?

Millennials: Do You Need a Home with More Space? | Simplifying The Market

If you’re a millennial, homebuying might be top of mind for you. Your generation is the largest group of homebuyers in the market today and has been since 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). And while other millennials are looking to buy for the first time, you may be one of the many who are now discovering you’ve outgrown your home.

If that’s the case, you’re not alone. The past two years brought about significant changes for many people, and today, homeowners are reevaluating what they truly need in a home. As a recent report from the Wall Street Journal states:

“They say the pandemic and the emergence of remote work accelerated millennial home-buying trends already under way. . . . Millennials who already owned homes traded up for more space.”

So, if you’re working remotely now or simply have a growing need for additional space, it may be time to move. And even if you purchased your current home sometime over the last few years, you can still move into a different one that has the space and features you’re looking for. That’s because there’s a good chance you have more equity than you realize. As Diana Olick, Real Estate Correspondent for CNBC, notes:

The stunning jump in home values over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic has given U.S. homeowners record amounts of housing wealth. . . . Even homeowners who weren’t listing their properties for sale were gaining equity. About 42% of homeowners were considered equity-rich at the end of last year, meaning their mortgages were half or less than half the value of their home.”

Growing equity can be the key you need to fuel your next move, especially if you’re looking to purchase a larger home. When you sell your current house, the equity that comes back to you in the sale can be used toward the down payment on your next home.

In other words, your purchasing power may be greater than you realize, making a move to a larger home a realistic option. That, plus your changing needs, might make moving now more desirable than ever.

Bottom Line

If you’re a millennial thinking about moving this year, you’re not alone. Let’s connect today to discuss the equity you have in your current home and the opportunities it can create.

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