3 Ways You Can Use Your Home Equity

3 Ways You Can Use Your Home Equity | Simplifying The Market

If you’re a homeowner, odds are your equity has grown significantly over the last few years as home prices skyrocketed and you made your monthly mortgage payments. Home equity builds over time and can help you achieve certain goals. According to the latest Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, the average borrower with a home loan has almost $300,000 in equity right now.

As you weigh your options, especially in the face of inflation and talk of a recession, it’s important to understand your assets and how you can leverage them. A real estate professional is the best resource to help you understand how much home equity you have and advise you on some of the ways you can use it.  Here are a few examples.

1. Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs

 If you no longer have the space you need, it might be time to move into a larger home. Or it’s possible you have too much space and need something smaller. No matter the situation, consider using your equity to power a move into a home that fits your changing lifestyle. 

If you want to upgrade your house, you can put your equity toward a down payment on the home of your dreams. And if you’re planning to downsize, you may be surprised that your equity may cover some, if not all, of the cost of your next home. A real estate advisor can help you figure out how much equity you have and how you can use it toward the purchase of your next home.

2. Reinvest in Your Current House

According to a recent survey from Point, 39% of homeowners would invest in home improvement projects if they chose to access their equity. This is a great option if you want to change some things about your living space but you aren’t ready to make a move just yet.

Home improvement projects allow you to customize your home to suit your needs and sense of style. Just remember to think ahead with any updates you make, as some renovations add more value to your home and are more likely to appeal to future buyers than others. For example, a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows refinishing or replacing wood flooring has a high cost recovery. Lean on a local professional for the best advice on which projects to invest in to get the greatest return on your investment when you sell.

3. Pursue Your Personal Goals

In addition to making a move or updating your house, home equity can also help you achieve the life goals you’ve dreamed of. That could mean investing in a new business venture, retiring or downsizing, or funding an education. While you shouldn’t use your equity for unnecessary spending, leveraging it to start a business or putting it toward education costs can help you achieve other lifelong goals.

Bottom Line

Your equity can be a game changer. If you’re unsure how much equity you have in your home, let’s connect so you can start planning your next move.

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Home Sweet Home: The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC]

Home Sweet Home: The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Home Sweet Home: The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • While there are many financial perks to owning a home, there are also powerful non-financial benefits to consider if you’re thinking about making a move.
  • Homeownership allows you to express yourself, gives you greater privacy and comfort, enhances your connection to your community and loved ones, and is an achievement to feel proud of.
  • Let’s connect today to discuss all that homeownership has to offer.

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What Buyers Need To Know About the Inventory of Homes Available for Sale

What Buyers Need To Know About the Inventory of Homes Available for Sale | Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you’re likely trying to juggle your needs, current mortgage rates, home prices, your schedule, and more to try to decide if you want to jump into the market.

If this sounds like you, here’s one key factor that could help you with your decision: there are more homes for sale today than there were at this time last year. According to Calculated Risk, for the week ending in November 18th, there were 47.7% more homes available for sale than there were at the same time in 2021. And having more options for your home search may be exactly what you need to feel confident about making a move.

Here’s a look at where the increased housing supply is coming from so you can get a better sense of what’s happening in the market today and what it means for you.

What Caused the Growth in Housing Inventory This Year?

The increase we’ve seen in housing supply this year isn’t from the source you think it is. Rather than an influx of recent homeowners listing their houses for sale (known as new listings), the primary reason the supply has grown is because homes are staying on the market a bit longer (known as active listings).

That’s happening because higher mortgage rates and home prices have helped moderate the peak frenzy of buyer demand, which has slowed down the pace of sales. And, as the pace of sales has eased, inventory has grown as a result.

The graph below uses data from realtor.com to show that it’s active listings, not new listings, that have driven the growth we’ve seen over the past few months:

What Buyers Need To Know About the Inventory of Homes Available for Sale | Simplifying The Market

And while overall inventory gains may slow down this winter due to typical housing market seasonality, you still have a chance to capitalize on the current supply.

What This Means for Your Home Search

Regardless of the source, the increase in available housing supply is good for buyers. More homes available for sale means you have more options to choose from as you search for your next home, and you may even have more time to consider them.

So, if you tried to buy a home last year and lost out in a bidding war or just couldn’t find something you liked, this may be the news you’ve been waiting for. If you start your search today, those additional options should make it less difficult to find a home you love, especially as some other buyers pause their search this holiday season.

Just remember, housing supply is still low overall, so it won’t suddenly be easy – it’ll just be less challenging than it was at this time last year. As a recent article from realtor.com says:

“Despite this improvement in the number of homes actively for sale, active listings still lag their pre-pandemic levels.”

The increase in housing supply helps put you in a great position to kick off the new year in your dream home. And who better to help you find it than a trusted, local real estate professional?

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to jump into the housing market and see what’s available in our local area, let’s connect.

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What Homeowners Want To Know About Selling in Today’s Market

What Homeowners Want To Know About Selling in Today’s Market | Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking about selling your house, you’re likely hearing about the cooling housing market and wondering what that means for you. While it’s not the peak intensity we saw during the pandemic, we’re still in a sellers’ market. That means you haven’t missed your window. Realtor.com explains:

“. . . while prospective home sellers may lament that they missed their prime window, in reality, this is still a terrific time to sell. In fact, according to a recent Realtor.com® home seller survey, 95% of sellers who sold their home in the past year got more than they paid for it.

Nonetheless, some of the more prominent pandemic trends have changed, so sellers might wish to adjust accordingly to get the best deal possible.”

The key to success today is being realistic and working with a trusted real estate advisor who can help you set your expectations based on where the market is now, not where it was over the past few years.

Here are a few things experts say today’s sellers need to consider.

Be Willing To Negotiate

At the peak of the pandemic frenzy, sellers held all the leverage because inventory was at record lows and buyers were willing to enter bidding wars over homes that were available. This year, the supply of homes for sale has increased as the market cooled. Even though inventory is still low overall, buyers today have more options, and with that comes more negotiation power.

As a seller, that means you may see more buyers getting an inspection, requesting repairs, or asking for help with closing costs today. You need to be prepared to have those conversations. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, says:

“Today’s market is different than it was just six months ago. . . Sellers that want the contract to move forward should be willing to work with the buyer. . . Consider helping with the closing costs or addressing many of the items on the home inspection list.”

Price Your Home at Market Value

It’s not just that the number of homes for sale has grown this year. Buyer demand has also pulled back in light of higher mortgage rates. As a result, pricing your house appropriately so you can catch the eyes of serious buyers is important. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains:

Price your home realistically. This isn’t the housing market of April or May, so buyer traffic will be substantially slower, but appropriately priced homes are still selling quickly.”

You don’t want to overreach with your price and deter buyers. At the same time, you don’t want to undervalue your home and leave money on the table. This is another area where an agent’s expertise comes in handy.

Think About Your First Impression on Buyers

Buyers have more options and are more particular about their investment since it costs more to buy a home given today’s mortgage rates. As a result, you need to make sure your house shows well. As an article from realtor.com says:

To stand out in the market, sellers should make their home attractive to buyers, which usually means some selective updates.”

This could include everything from staging the home, to making small cosmetic updates, tackling repairs, or undergoing renovations. A trusted real estate professional will help you assess what may be worthwhile to do compared to other recently sold homes in your area.

Bottom Line

To sum it all up, your house should still sell today and move quickly if you’re realistic about today’s market. As a press release from Zillow puts it:

. . . sellers need to do things right to attract the attention of these buyers — pricing their home competitively and making their listing attractive to online home shoppers.”

For expert advice on how to quickly sell your house in a shifting market, let’s connect.

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Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time

Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time | Simplifying The Market

This past year, rising mortgage rates have slowed the red-hot housing market. Over the past nine months, we’ve seen fewer homes sold than the previous month as home price growth has slowed. All of this is due to the fact that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has doubled this year, severely limiting homebuying power for consumers. And, this month, the average rate for financing a home briefly rose over 7% before coming back down into the high 6% range. But we’re starting to see a hint of what mortgage interest rates could look like next year.

Inflation Is the Enemy of Long-Term Interest Rates

As long as inflation is high, we’ll see higher mortgage rates. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen indications that inflation may be cooling, giving us a glimpse into what may happen in the future. The mortgage market is eagerly awaiting positive news on inflation. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, says:

The housing market is expected to face continued uncertainty heading into 2023 as consumers, financial markets, and policymakers work through their respective challenges in today’s economy. . . . we are watching for any additional stability in the MBS market, signs of cooling inflation, and/or less aggressive Federal Reserve action to give us confidence that mortgage rates are past their peak.”

What Does This Mean for the Future of Mortgage Rates?

As we get through the inflation battle and start to see that coming down, we should expect mortgage rates to follow. We’ve seen nods of this over the past couple of weeks. As the Federal Reserve works to bring inflation down, mortgage rates will come down as well. Bill McBride from Calculated Risk says:

My current view is inflation will ease quicker than the Fed currently expects.”

As we look toward next year, we certainly hope he’s right.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates will come down – it’s just a matter of time. The hope is we continue to see more positive news on inflation, and that’ll bring mortgage rates down. This will give prospective homebuyers more buying power and lead to more homeowners throughout the country.

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Why It May Be Time To Add Newly Built Homes to Your Search

Why It May Be Time To Add Newly Built Homes to Your Search | Simplifying The Market

If you put a pause on your home search because you weren’t sure where you’d go once you sold your house, it might be a good time to get back into the market. If you’re willing to work with a trusted agent to consider a newly built home, you may have even more options and incentives than you realize. That may be why the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says the share of buyers looking for new construction is increasing:

“According to the quarterly Housing Trends Report, the popularity of new construction homes is continuing to rebound . . .”

Here’s a few reasons more buyers may be drawn to newly built homes.

More Options To Choose from and Potential Builder Incentives

When looking for a home, you can choose between existing homes (those that are already built and previously owned) and newly constructed ones. While the inventory of existing homes has increased this year, it’s still below more typical years like 2019. Currently, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there is a 3.2-month supply at the current sales pace. For reference, a roughly 6-month supply is considered a balanced market, leaving us in a sellers’ market today.

While it’s a smaller segment of the overall inventory of homes for sale, the supply of newly built homes has grown even more. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explains:

New single-family home inventory remained elevated at a 9.2 months’ supply (of varying stages of construction). A measure near a 6 months’ supply is considered balanced.”

Here’s why this matters for you. While you have more homes to choose from in either category, there’s one extra benefit of newly built homes. Because the inventory of newly built homes has grown so much, builders are motivated to sell their properties before they build more.

Back in the housing crash of 2008, builders were building too many homes, and that oversupply is part of what contributed to the housing bubble bursting. Now, builders don’t want to have a surplus of inventory in their pipeline, and many are offering buyers incentives to help move that inventory along. As Doug Duncan, Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, explains:

“. . . a continual increase in the number of completed homes available for sale is now occurring, with the inventories of such homes now at the highest level since July 2020. . . . This suggests to us that builders may be increasingly willing to offer more aggressive incentives and discounts to maintain sales of completed inventory.”

While specifics will vary by builder and market, some buyers are seeing builders reduce prices and offer incentives. To find out what’s available in your area, lean on a trusted real estate professional.

Lifestyle Benefits of Buying a Newly Built Home

In addition to more supply and the potential for builder incentives, newly built homes have various benefits that may suit your lifestyle. For example, you likely won’t have as many little repairs to tackle, like leaky faucets, shutters to paint, and other odd jobs around the house. That can free up time for you to do other things you’re passionate about.

Another perk of a new home is that nothing in the house is used. It’s brand new and uniquely yours from day one. You’ll have all new appliances, windows, roofing, and more. These things can help lower your energy costs, which can add up to significant savings over time. You may even have the latest and greatest technology features built into your new home.

Builder sums up why some buyers today are turning to newly built homes:

“For some, it’s the lure of something new and modern. For others, it’s the move-in ready experience. And now there’s another factor to consider when making this decision: technology.”

If any of these benefits appeal to you, it’s time to connect with a trusted real estate advisor to learn more.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering a newly built home, let’s connect so you have an expert guide on what’s available in our local market. Together we’ll explore your options and the benefits of an all-new home.

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VA Loans: Making Homes for the Brave Achievable [INFOGRAPHIC]

VA Loans: Making Homes for the Brave Achievable [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

VA Loans: Making Homes for the Brave Achievable [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • VA Loans can help make homeownership possible for those who have served our country.
  • These loans offer great benefits for eligible individuals and can help them buy a VA-approved house or condo, build a new home, or make improvements to their house.
  • Homeownership is the American Dream. One way we can honor and thank our veterans is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans.

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VA Loans Can Help Veterans Achieve Their Dream of Homeownership

VA Loans Can Help Veterans Achieve Their Dream of Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

For over 78 years, Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans have provided millions of veterans with the opportunity to purchase homes of their own. If you or a loved one have served, it’s important to understand this program and its benefits.

Here are some things you should know about VA loans before you start the homebuying process.

What Are VA Loans?

VA home loans provide a pathway to homeownership for those who have served our nation. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs describes the program like this:

“VA helps Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. As part of our mission to serve you, we provide a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.”

Top Benefits of the VA Home Loan Program

In addition to helping eligible buyers achieve their homeownership dreams, VA loans have several other great benefits for buyers who qualify. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs:

  • Qualified borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment.
  • Many other loans with down payments under 20% require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). VA Loans do not require PMI, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.
  • VA-Backed Loans often offer competitive terms and mortgage interest rates.

A recent article from Veterans United sums up just how impactful this loan option can be:

“For the vast majority of military borrowers, VA loans represent the most powerful lending program on the market. These flexible, $0-down payment mortgages have helped more than 24 million service members become homeowners since 1944.”

John Bell, Acting Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Guaranty Service, also explains why this program is so powerful:

“It provides early ownership for many people that would not have that opportunity to begin with. Since there’s no down payment, it allows people to hold their wealth and it gives them the ability to have long term financial security by being able to own a house and let that equity grow.”

Bottom Line

Homeownership is the American Dream. Our veterans sacrifice so much in service of our nation, and one way we can honor and thank them is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans. Thank you for your service.

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What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates and Home Prices?

What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates and Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

Now that the end of 2022 is within sight, you may be wondering what’s going to happen in the housing market next year and what that may mean if you’re thinking about buying a home. Here’s a look at the latest expert insights on both mortgage rates and home prices so you can make your best move possible.

Mortgage Rates Will Continue To Respond to Inflation

There’s no doubt mortgage rates have skyrocketed this year as the market responded to high inflation. The increases we’ve seen were fast and dramatic, and the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate even surpassed 7% at the end of last month. In fact, it’s the first time they’ve risen this high in over 20 years (see graph below):

What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates and Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

In their latest quarterly report, Freddie Mac explains just how fast the climb in rates has been:

“Just one year ago, rates were under 3%. This means that while mortgage rates are not as high as they were in the 80’s, they have more than doubled in the past year. Mortgage rates have never doubled in a year before.

Because we’re in unprecedented territory, it’s hard to say with certainty where mortgage rates will go from here. Projecting the future of mortgage rates is far from an exact science, but experts do agree that, moving forward, mortgage rates will continue to respond to inflation. If inflation stays high, mortgage rates likely will too.

Home Price Changes Will Vary by Market

As buyer demand has eased this year in response to those higher mortgage rates, home prices have moderated in many markets too. In terms of the forecast for next year, expert projections are mixed. The general consensus is home price appreciation will vary by local market, with more significant changes happening in overheated areas. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says:

“House price appreciation has slowed in all 50 markets we track, but the deceleration is generally more dramatic in areas that experienced the strongest peak appreciation rates.

Basically, some areas may still see slight price growth while others may see slight price declines. It all depends on other factors at play in that local market, like the balance between supply and demand. This may be why experts are divided on their latest national forecasts (see graph below):

What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates and Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you want to know what’s happening with home prices or mortgage rates, let’s connect so you have the latest on what experts are saying and what that means for our area.

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The Majority of Americans Still View Homeownership as the American Dream

The Majority of Americans Still View Homeownership as the American Dream | Simplifying The Market

Buying a home is a powerful decision, and it remains a key part of the American Dream. In fact, the 2022 Consumer Insights Report from Mynd found the majority of people polled still view homeownership as a key life achievement. Let’s explore just a few of the reasons why so many Americans continue to value homeownership.

The Financial Benefits of Owning a Home

One possible reason homeownership is viewed so highly is because owning a home is a significant wealth-building tool, and it provides meaningful financial stability over renting by locking in your monthly housing payments for the length of your home loan. An article from Forbes explains:

“Understanding the potential benefits of homeownership helps individuals see the value of owning property instead of renting. . . . household wealth among homeowners is a whopping 1,469% higher on average compared to renters, excluding home equity, making the allure of homeownership even more enticing.”

Over time, owning a home not only helps boost your own net worth, but it also sets future generations up for success as you pass that wealth down. That may be why the Mynd report also says:

Most Americans (78%) still associate homeownership with the ‘American dream.’ And nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) see homeownership as a means of building intergenerational wealth.”

The Non-Financial Benefits of Homeownership

While the financial benefits of owning a home are important, becoming a homeowner impacts you on a social and emotional level, too. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, says:

“. . . buying a home is not just a financial decision. It’s also a lifestyle decision.”

Your home provides feelings of achievement, responsibility, and more. 3by30 highlights the top 10 benefits homeowners enjoy. A few non-financial advantages include:

  • Providing you with more freedom and control over your living space
  • Giving you a greater sense of pride
  • Helps with community engagement

What Does That Mean for You?

If your definition of the American Dream involves greater freedom and prosperity, then homeownership could play a major role in helping you achieve that dream. While it may feel challenging to buy a home today as mortgage rates and home prices rise, if the time is right for you, know that there are incredible benefits waiting for you at the end of your journey. You’ll have a place you can grow your wealth, call your own, and feel most comfortable.

Like the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

“. . . research has consistently shown that homeownership is also associated with multiple economic and social benefits to individual homeowners. Homeownership has always been an important way to build wealth.”

Bottom Line

Buying a home is a powerful decision and a key part of the long-term dream for many Americans. And if homeownership is part of your dreams this year, let’s connect to start the process today.

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