Is Your House the Top Thing on a Buyer’s Wish List this Holiday Season?

Is Your House the Top Thing on a Buyer’s Wish List this Holiday Season? Simplifying The Market

This time every year, homeowners who are planning to move have a decision to make: sell now or wait until after the holidays? Some sellers with homes already on the market may even remove their listing until the new year.

But the truth is, many buyers want to purchase a home for the holidays, and your house might be just what they’re looking for. As an article from Fortune Builders explains:

“ . . . while a majority of people take a step back from the real estate market during the holiday months, you may find when the temperature drops, your potential for a great real estate deal starts to rise.”

To help prove that point, here are four reasons you shouldn’t wait to sell your house.

1. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop during the holidays. While a few buyers might opt to delay their moving plans until January, others may need to move now because something in their life has changed. The buyers who look for homes at this time of year are usually motivated to make their move happen and are eager to buy. A recent article from Investopedia says:

“Anyone shopping for a new home between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is likely going to be a serious buyer. Putting your home on the market at this time of year and attracting a serious buyer can often result in a quicker sale.”

2. While the supply of homes for sale has increased a little bit lately, overall inventory is still lower than it was before the pandemic. What does that mean for you? If you work with an agent to price your house at market value, it could still sell quickly because today’s buyers are craving more options – and your home may be exactly what they’re searching for.

3. You can determine the days and times that are most convenient for you for home showings. That can help you minimize disruptions to your own schedule, which can be especially important during this busy time of year. Plus, you may find buyers are more flexible on when they’ll tour a house this time of year because they have more time off from work around the holidays.

4. And finally, homes decorated for the holidays appeal to many buyers. For those buyers, it’s easy to picture gathering with their loved ones in the home and making memories of their own. An article on selling at this time of year offers this advice:

“If you’re selling around a holiday and have decorations up, make sure they accent—not overpower—a room. Less is more.

Bottom Line

There are plenty of good reasons to put your house on the market during the holiday season. Connect with a real estate agent and see if it’s the right time for you to sell.

People Are Still Moving, Even with Today’s Affordability Challenges

People Are Still Moving, Even with Today’s Affordability Challenges Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, you might have heard that it’s tough right now because mortgage rates are higher than they’ve been over the past few years, and home prices are rising. That much is true. Take a look at the graph below. It breaks down how the current affordability situation stacks up to recent years.

 

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains how to read the values on the graph:

“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home.”

The black dotted line represents that 100 value on the index. Essentially, the higher the bar, the more affordable homes are. As you can see, the orange bar for today shows higher mortgage rates and home prices have created a clear challenge. But, while affordability is definitely tighter right now, that doesn’t mean the housing market is at a standstill.

According to NAR, based on the pace of sales right now, just under 4 million homes will sell this year. With some simple math, let’s break down what that really means for you:

  • 3.96 million homes divided by 365 days in a year = 10,849 houses sell each day
  • 10,849 divided by 24 hours in a day = 452 houses sell per hour
  • 452 divided by 60 minutes in an hour = about 8 houses sell each minute

So, on average, over 10,000 homes sell each day in this country. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, this goes to show there are still ways to make your move possible, even at a time when affordability is tight.

An Agent Can Help You Make Your Move a Reality

You may be wondering how other homebuyers and sellers are making this happen now. One of the biggest game-changers in today’s market is working with a trusted local real estate agent. Great agents are helping other people just like you navigate today’s market and the current affordability situation, and their insight is invaluable right now.

True professionals will be able to offer advice tailored to your specific wants, needs, budget, and more. Not to mention, they’ll also be able to draw on their experience of what’s working for other buyers and sellers right now. This could mean broadening your search, if needed, to include other housing types like condos, townhouses, or neighborhoods a bit further out to help offset some of the affordability challenges today. 

Bottom Line

You might think there aren’t many people buying or selling homes right now since affordability is tighter than it’s been in quite some time, but that’s not the case. It’s true that buying a home has become more expensive over the past couple of years, but people are still moving.

 

If you’re hoping to buy or sell a home today, know that other people are still making their goals a reality – and that’s happening in large part because of the help and advice of skilled real estate agents. Want to talk to a trusted professional about your own move? Connect with a local real estate agent.  

The Latest 2024 Housing Market Forecast

The Latest 2024 Housing Market Forecast Simplifying The Market

The new year is right around the corner, and you might be wondering if 2024 will be the right time to buy or sell a home. If you want to make the most informed decision possible, it’s important to know what the experts have to say about what’s ahead for the housing market. Spoiler alert: the projections may be better than you think. Here’s why.

Experts Forecast Ongoing Home Price Appreciation

Take a look at the latest home price forecasts from Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), and the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

 

As you can see in the orange bars on the left, on average, experts forecast prices will end this year up about 2.8% overall, and increase by another 1.5% by the end of 2024. That’s big news, considering so many people thought prices would crash this year. The truth is, prices didn’t come tumbling way down in 2023, and that’s because there just weren’t enough homes for sale compared to the number of people who wanted or needed to buy them, and that inventory crunch is still very real. This is the general rule of supply and demand, and it continues to put upward pressure on prices as we move into the new year.

Looking forward, experts project home prices will continue to rise next year, but not quite as much as they did this year. Even though the expected rise in 2024 isn’t as big as in 2023, it’s important to understand home price appreciation is cumulative. In simpler terms, this means if the experts are right, according to the national average, after your home’s value goes up by 2.8% this year, it should go up by another 1.5% next year. That ongoing price growth is a big part of why owning a home can be a smart decision in the long run.

Projections Show Sales Should Increase Slightly Next Year

While 2023 hasn’t seen a lot of home sales relative to more normal years in the housing market, experts are forecasting a bit more activity next year. Here’s what those same three organizations project for the rest of this year, and in 2024 (see graph below):

 

While expectations are for just a slight uptick in total sales, improved activity next year is a good thing for the housing market, and for buyers and sellers like you. As people continue to move, that opens up options for hopeful buyers who are looking for a home.

So, what do these forecasts show? The housing market is expected to be more active in 2024. That may be in part because there will always be people who need to move. People will get new jobs, have children, get married or divorced – these and other major life changes lead people to move regardless of housing market conditions. That will remain true next year, and for years to come. And if mortgage rates come down, we’ll see even more activity in the housing market.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying or selling, it’s important to know what the experts are forecasting for the future of the housing market. When you’re in the know about what’s ahead, you can make the most informed decision possible. Connect with a local real estate agent to chat about the latest forecasts, and craft a plan for your next move.

These Top Cities Show Home Prices Are Still Climbing

These Top Cities Show Home Prices Are Still Climbing Simplifying The Market

If you’re considering buying a home or selling your current one to find something that better suits your needs, you may have questions about what’s happening with home prices today. Here’s what you need to know.

There’s still a lot of confusion and misinformation out there. So, no matter what you may have heard, the national data shows they’ve actually been climbing again (see graphs below):

 

As you can see, in the first half of 2022, home prices went way up. Those increases were dramatic and unsustainable. So, in the second half of 2022, prices adjusted. Those dips were small and didn’t last very long. Still, the news made a big deal about these slight declines, which may have made you worry.

But what’s important to know is that, in 2023, prices are going up again, and this time it’s at a more normal pace. The fact that all three reports now show more typical price increases this year is good news for the housing market.

Home Prices Are Rising Across the Top Cities in the U.S.

After seeing steady home price growth at the national level for the last several months, you may wonder if prices are going up in your local area, too. Know this: while this will vary from one area to the next, home prices are appreciating in these top cities Case-Shiller reports on in their monthly price index (see chart below):

 

That’s why so many experts are able to forecast home prices will end the year in the positive and continue going up in 2024.

Here’s How This Affects You

  • For Buyers: If you’ve been waiting to buy a home because you were concerned it might lose value, the fact that home prices are going up should ease your worries. Buying a home before prices climb higher can be a smart move since home values typically appreciate over time.
  • For Sellers: If you’ve been postponing selling your house because you were worried about how changing home prices would affect its value, now might be a good time to work with a real estate agent to put your house on the market. You don’t have to wait any longer because the data shows home prices are in your favor.

Bottom Line

If you delayed moving because you were concerned home prices could drop, don’t worry – the numbers show they’re going up nationally. To better understand how home prices are changing in your neighborhood, team up with a local real estate agent.

Life-Changing Events That Move the Housing Market

Life-Changing Events That Move the Housing Market Simplifying The Market

Life is a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns, like the excitement of welcoming a new addition, retiring and starting a new adventure, or the bittersweet feeling of an empty nest. If something like this is changing in your own life, you may be considering buying or selling a house. That’s because through all these life-altering events, there is one common thread—the need to move.

Reasons People Still Need To Move Today

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) there have been a lot of this type of milestone or life change over the last two years (see graph below):

 

And, these big life changes are going to continue to impact people moving forward, even with the current affordability challenges brought on by higher mortgage rates and rising home prices.

As Claire Trapasso, Executive News Editor at Realtor.com, says:

“Because high mortgage rates, elevated home prices, and stubbornly low inventory make today’s housing market particularly challenging, many of today’s buyers are motivated by life changes, such as growing families, supporting elderly parents or grown children, or accommodating professional needs. . .”

Lean On a Real Estate Professional for Help

Whether you’re beginning your search for a home or preparing to sell your current house, you don’t have to go it alone. With their expertise, a real estate agent is an invaluable partner who can help you smoothly transition through these big moments in your life. Here are just a few examples.

When Buying a Home

If you’re welcoming a new addition and want more space, the need for a new home may be a top priority. While higher home prices and mortgage rates are creating challenges for buyers, you may have to find a way to meet your changing needs, even with today’s mortgage rates.

A skilled real estate agent can help. Their expertise and knowledge of the local housing market can save you a considerable amount of time and stress. An agent will take the time to understand your specific needs, budget, and preferences, allowing them to narrow down your search and present you with suitable options.

When Selling a House

If you’re retiring or going through a separation or divorce, your main focus may be to make the most out of your investment when selling your house, so you can find one that works better for you moving forward.

This is another place where a real estate agent’s expertise truly shines. They can accurately assess your home’s market value, suggest improvements to enhance its appeal, and craft a strategic marketing plan. Their negotiation skills are a big asset when it comes to making sure you get a fair price for your house, allowing you to move on to the next chapter of your life with confidence and peace of mind.

No matter your situation, lean on a trusted professional for help as you buy or sell a home.

Bottom Line

If recent life-changing events have you wanting or needing to move, connect with a local real estate agent.

How VA Loans Can Help Make Homeownership Dreams Come True

How VA Loans Can Help Make Homeownership Dreams Come True Simplifying The Market

For more than 79 years, Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans have helped millions of veterans buy their own homes. If you or someone you care about has served in the military, it’s essential to learn about this program and its advantages.

Here are some important things to know about VA loans before you buy a home.

The Many Advantages of VA Home Loans

VA home loans provide a pathway to homeownership for those who have served our nation, and they’re a great benefit for buyers who qualify. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs:

  • Options for No Down Payment: Qualified borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment. That’s a huge weight lifted when you’re trying to save for a home.
  • Limited Closing Costs: There are limits on the types of closing costs you pay when you qualify for a VA home loan. So, more money stays in your pocket when it’s time to seal the deal.
  • Don’t Require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): Many other loans with down payments under 20% require PMI. VA loans do not, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.

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.”

Bottom Line

Owning a home is the American Dream. Veterans sacrifice a lot to protect our country, and one way we can show our appreciation is by making sure they know all the benefits of VA home loans. Thank you for your service.

Thinking About Using Your 401(k) To Buy a Home?

Thinking About Using Your 401(k) To Buy a Home? Simplifying The Market

Are you dreaming of buying your own home and wondering about how you’ll save for a down payment? You’re not alone. Some people think about tapping into their 401(k) savings to make it happen. But before you decide to dip into your retirement to buy a home, be sure to consider all possible alternatives and talk with a financial expert. Here’s why.

The Numbers May Make It Tempting

The data shows many Americans have saved a considerable amount for retirement (see chart below):

 

It can be really tempting when you have a lot of money saved up in your 401(k) and you see your dream home on the horizon. But remember, dipping into your retirement savings for a home could cost you a penalty and affect your finances later on. That’s why it’s important to explore all your options when it comes to saving for a down payment and buying a home. As Experian says:

“It’s possible to use funds from your 401(k) to buy a house, but whether you should depends on several factors, including taxes and penalties, how much you’ve already saved and your unique financial circumstances.”

Alternative Ways To Buy a Home

Using your 401(k) is one way to finance a home, but it’s not the only option. Before you decide, consider a couple of other methods, courtesy of Experian:

  • FHA Loan: FHA loans allow qualified buyers to put down as little as 3.5% of the home’s price, depending on their credit scores.
  • Down Payment Assistance Programs: There are many national and local programs that can help first-time and repeat homebuyers come up with the necessary down payment.

Above All Else, Have a Plan

No matter what route you take to purchase a home, be sure to talk with a financial expert before you do anything. Working with a team of experts to develop a concrete plan prior to starting your journey to homeownership is the key to success. Kelly Palmer, Founder of The Wealthy Parent, says:

“I have seen parents pausing contributions to their retirement plans in favor of affording a larger home often with the hope they can refinance in the future… As long as there is a tangible plan in place to get back to saving for their retirement goals, I encourage families to consider all their options.

Bottom Line

If you’re still thinking about using your 401(k)-retirement savings for a home down payment, consider all your options and work with a financial professional before you make any decisions.

Homeowner Net Worth Has Skyrocketed

Homeowner Net Worth Has Skyrocketed Simplifying The Market

If you’re weighing your options to decide whether it makes more sense to rent or buy a home today, here’s one key data point that could help you feel more confident in making your decision. Every three years, the Federal Reserve Board releases the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). That report covers the difference in net worth for both homeowners and renters. Spoiler alert: the gap between the two is significant.

The average homeowner’s net worth is almost 40X greater than a renter’s. And here’s the data to prove it (see graph below):

The Big Reason Homeowner Net Worth Is So High

In the previous version of that report, the net worth of the average homeowner was roughly $255,000 and that of the average renter was $6,300. But in the release that just came out this year, the gap widened as homeowner net worth climbed dramatically. As the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) report says:

“. . . the 2019-2022 growth in median net worth was the largest three-year increase over the history of the modern SCF, more than double the next-largest one on record.”

One of the biggest reasons homeowner net worth skyrocketed is home equity.

Over the last few years, known as the ‘unicorn’ years for housing, home prices went through the roof. That’s because there weren’t enough homes for sale, and there was a big influx of buyers rushing to buy them and take advantage of the then record-low mortgage rates. That imbalance of supply and demand pushed prices higher and higher. As a result, most homeowners who had a home during that time saw their equity grow a lot.

If you’re still in the middle of making your decision on whether to rent or buy, you may wonder if you missed the boat on the big net worth boost. But here’s what you need to realize. As a recent article in The Ascent explains:

Whether your net worth increased in recent years or not, there are steps you can take to boost that number in the coming years. . . buying a home can be a great way to grow your net worth, since home values have a tendency to rise over time.”

Historically, home prices climb over time. Even now that mortgage rates are closer to 7-8%, prices are still rising in many areas of the country because supply is still low compared to demand. That’s why expert forecasts for the next few years call for ongoing appreciation – just at a pace that’s more typical for the housing market.

While it likely won’t be the record ramp-up that happened over the last few years, people who buy now should continue to grow equity in the years ahead. That means, if you’re ready and able to buy a home today, you’ll be making an investment that’ll help build your net worth in the long run.

As Jessica Lautz, Deputy Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“. . . when deciding to rent vs buy, one must calculate the total cost of homeownership (maintenance, utilities, commuting, etc.) and the total financial benefit. Based on new Fed data . . . the median net worth of homeowners was $396,200 vs renters at $10,400. There is no question about the wealth gains that homeownership provides.”

Bottom Line

If you’re on the fence about whether to rent or buy a home, remember that homeownership can give your net worth a big boost over time. If you want to learn more about this or the many other benefits of owning a home, connect with a local real estate agent.

Reasons To Sell Your House Before the New Year

Reasons To Sell Your House Before the New Year Simplifying The Market

As the year winds down, you may have decided it’s time to make a move and put your house on the market. But should you sell now or wait until January? While it may be tempting to hold off until after the holidays, here are three reasons to make your move before the new year.

Get One Step Ahead of Other Sellers

Typically, in the residential real estate market, homeowners are less likely to list their houses toward the end of the year. That’s because people get busy around the holidays and sometimes deprioritize selling their house until the start of the new year when their schedules and social calendars calm down. But that gives you an opportunity to get one step ahead.

Selling now, while other homeowners may hold off until after the holidays, can help you get a leg up on your competition. Start the process with a real estate agent today so you can get your house on the market before your neighbors do.

Get Your House in Front of Eager Buyers 

Even though the supply of homes for sale did grow compared to last year, it’s still low. That means there aren’t enough homes on the market today. While some buyers may also delay their plans to move until January, others will still need to move for personal reasons or because something in their life has changed.

Those buyers are still going to be active later this year and will be seriously motivated to make their move happen because they need to. Unfortunately, the challenge they’ll face is a shortage of available inventory to meet their needs. A recent article from Investopedia says:

“. . . if your house is up for sale in the winter and someone is looking at it, chances are that person is serious and ready to buy. Anyone shopping for a new home between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is likely going to be a serious buyer. Putting your home on the market at this time of year and attracting a serious buyer can often result in a quicker sale.”

Use Your Equity To Fuel Your Move

Keep in mind that homeowners today have record amounts of equity. According to CoreLogic, the average amount of equity per mortgage holder has climbed to almost $290,000. That means the equity you have in your house right now could cover some, if not all, of a down payment on the home of your dreams.

And as you weigh the reasons to sell before year-end, it’s important to remember the reasons that sparked your desire to move in the first place. Maybe it’s time for a new home in a location that suits you better, one that offers the perfect space for you and your loved ones, or maybe your needs have evolved over time. A local real estate agent can help you determine how much home equity you have and how you can use it to achieve your goal of making a move.

Bottom Line

Listing your home before the new year can offer unique benefits. Less competition, motivated buyers, and your equity gains can all play to your advantage. Reach out to a local real estate agent to achieve your goals before winter sets in.

Is It Time To Sell Your Second Home?

Is It Time To Sell Your Second Home? Simplifying The Market

During the pandemic, second homes became popular because of the rise in work-from-home flexibility. That’s because owning a second home, especially in the luxury market, allowed those homeowners to spend more time in their favorite places or with different home features. Keep in mind, a luxury home isn’t only defined by price. In a recent article, Investopedia shares additional factors that push a home into this category: location, such as a home on the water or in a desirable city, and features, the things that make the home itself feel luxurious.