Category: First Time Home Buyers

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Real Estate Tops Best Investment Poll for 7th Year Running

Every year, Gallup conducts a survey of Americans to determine their choice for the best long-term investment. Respondents are asked to select real estate, stocks/mutual funds, gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

For the seventh year in a row, real estate has come out on top as the best long-term investment. Gallup explained:

“Real estate remains the most favored investment to Americans, as has been the case since 2013, when the housing market was on the rebound. More than a third of Americans have named real estate as the top investment since 2016.”

This year’s results indicated 35% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 21%. The full results covering the last decade are shown in the chart below:Real Estate Tops Best Investment Poll for 7th Year Running | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

The belief of the American people in the stability of housing as a long-term investment remains strong, even through the many challenges our economy faces today.

Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand

Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand | Simplifying The Market

As we enter the summer months and work through the challenges associated with the current health crisis, many are wondering what impact the economic slowdown will have on home prices. Looking at the big picture, supply and demand will give us the clearest idea of what’s to come.

Making our way through the month of June and entering the second half of the year, we face an undersupply of homes on the market. Keep in mind, this undersupply is going to vary by location and by price point. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), across the country, we currently have a 4.1 months supply of homes on the market. Historically, 6 months of supply is considered a balanced market. Anything over 6 months is a buyer’s market, meaning prices will depreciate. Anything below 6 months is a seller’s market, where prices appreciate. The graph below shows inventory across the country since 2010 in months supply of homes for sale.Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand | Simplifying The MarketRobert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Home Builders Association (NAHB) says:

“As the economy begins a recovery later in 2020, we expect housing to play a leading role. Housing enters this recession underbuilt, not overbuilt. Estimates vary, but based on demographics and current vacancy rates, the U.S. may have a housing deficit of up to one million units.”

Given the undersupply of homes on the market today, there is upward pressure on prices. Looking at simple economics, when there is less of an item for sale and the demand is high, consumers are willing to pay more for that item. The undersupply is also prompting bidding wars, which can drive price points higher in the home sale process. According to a recent MarketWatch article:

 “As buyers return to the market as the country rebounds from the pandemic, a limited inventory of homes for sale could fuel bidding wars and push prices higher.”

In addition, experts forecasting home prices have updated their projections given the impact of the pandemic. The major institutions expect home prices to appreciate through 2022. The chart below, updated as of earlier this week, notes these forecasts. As the year progresses, we may see these projections revised in a continued upward trend, given the lack of homes on the market. This could drive home prices even higher.Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Many may think home prices will depreciate due to the economic slowdown from the coronavirus, but experts disagree. As we approach the second half of this year, we may actually see home prices rise even higher given the lack of homes for sale.

The Benefits of Homeownership May Reach Further Than You Think

The Benefits of Homeownership May Reach Further Than You Think | Simplifying The Market

More than ever, our homes have become an integral part of our lives. Today they are much more than the houses we live in. They’re evolving into our workplaces, schools for our children, and safe havens that provide shelter, stability, and protection for our families through the evolving health crisis. Today, 65.3% of Americans are able to call their homes their own, a rate that has risen to its highest point in 8 years.

June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a great time to reflect on the benefits of owning your own home. Below are some highlights and quotes recently shared by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). From non-financial to financial, and even including how owning a home benefits your local economy, these items may give you reason to think homeownership stretches well beyond a sound dollars and cents investment alone.

Non-Financial Benefits

Owning a home brings families a sense of happiness, satisfaction, and pride.

  • Pride of Ownership: It feels good to have a place that’s truly your own, especially since you can customize it to your liking. “The personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment achieved through homeownership can enhance psychological health, happiness and well-being for homeowners and those around them.”
  • Property Maintenance and Improvement: Your home is your stake in the community, and a way to give back by driving value into your neighborhood.
  • Civic Participation: Homeownership creates stability, a sense of community, and increases civic engagement. It’s a way to add to the strength of your local area.

Financial Benefits

Buying a home is also an investment in your family’s financial future.

  • Net Worth: Homeownership builds your family’s net worth. “The median family net worth for all homeowners ($231,400) increased by nearly 15% since 2013, while net worth ($5,000) actually declined by approximately 9% since 2013 for renter families.”
  • Financial Security: Equity, appreciation, and predictable monthly housing expenses are huge financial benefits of homeownership. Homeownership is truly the best way to improve your long-term net worth.

Economic Benefits

Homeownership is even a local economic driver.

  • Housing-Related Spending: An economic force throughout our nation, housing-related expenses accounted for more than one-sixth of the country’s economic activity over the past three decades.
  • GDP Growth: Homeownership also helps drive GDP growth as the country aims to make an economic rebound. “Every 10% increase in total housing market wealth would translate to approximately $147 billion in additional consumer spending, or 0.8% of GDP, as well as billions of dollars in new federal tax revenue.”
  • Entrepreneurship: Homeownership is even a form of forced savings that provides entrepreneurial opportunities as well. “Owning a home enables new entrepreneurs to obtain access to credit to start or expand a business and generate new jobs by using their home as collateral for small business loans.”

Bottom Line

The benefits of homeownership are vast and go well beyond the surface level. Homeownership is truly a way to build financial freedom, find greater satisfaction and happiness, and make a substantial impact on your local economy. If owning a home is part of your dream, let’s connect today so you can begin the homebuying process.

Why This Summer Is the 2020 Real Estate Season

Why This Summer Is the 2020 Real Estate Season | Simplifying The Market

With stay-at-home orders starting to gradually lift throughout parts of the country, data indicates homebuyers are jumping back into the market. After many families put their plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what we once called the busy spring real estate season is shifting into the summer. In 2020, summer is the new spring for real estate.

Joel Kan, Economist at The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) notes:

“Applications for home purchases continue to recover from April’s sizable drop and have now increased for five consecutive weeks…Government purchase applications, which include FHA, VA, and USDA loans, are now 5 percent higher than a year ago, which is an encouraging turnaround after the weakness seen over the past two months.”

Additionally, according to Google Trends, which scores search terms online, searches for real estate increased from 68 points the week of March 15th to 92 points last week. As we can see, more potential homebuyers are looking for homes virtually.

What’s the Opportunity for Buyers?

Another reason buyers are coming back to the market, even with forced unemployment and stay-at-home orders, is historically low mortgage rates. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac indicates:

“For the fourth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3.30 percent, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic…As states reopen, we’re seeing purchase demand improve remarkably fast, now essentially flat relative to a year ago.”

With mortgage rates at such low levels and states gradually beginning to reopen, there’s more incentive than ever to buy a home this summer.

What’s the Opportunity for Sellers?

Finding a home to buy, however, is still a challenge, as this spring sellers removed many listings from the market. Though more people are now putting their houses up for sale this month as compared to last month, current inventory is still well below last year’s level.

According to last week’s Weekly Economic and Housing Market Update from realtor.com:

“Weekly Housing Inventory showed continued tightening. New Listings declined 28% compared with a year ago, as sellers grappled with uncertainty and hesitated bringing homes to market. Total Listings dropped 20% YoY, a faster rate than in prior weeks, leaving very few homes available for sale. As Time on Market was 15 days slower YoY, asking prices moved up 1.5% YoY.”

If you’re thinking of selling your house this summer, now may be your best opportunity. With so few homes on the market for buyers to purchase, this season may be the time for your house to stand out from the crowd. Trusted real estate professionals can help you list safely and effectively, keeping your family’s needs top of mind. Buyers are looking, and your house may be at the top of their list.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling, many buyers may be eager to find a home just like yours. Let’s connect today to make sure you can get your house in on the action this summer.

#1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership: Family Wealth

#1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership: Family Wealth | Simplifying The Market

While growing up, we were taught by our parents and grandparents that owning a home is a financially savvy move. They explained how a mortgage is like a “forced savings plan.” When you pay rent, that money is lost forever. When you make a mortgage payment, much of that money accumulates as equity in the home. So, what exactly is equity?

The equity in your home is the amount of money you can sell it for minus what you still owe on the mortgage. Every month you make a mortgage payment, and every month a portion of what you pay reduces the amount you owe. That reduction of your mortgage every month increases your equity.

A recent study by CoreLogic explained that homeowners gained substantial equity over the last twelve months, and are essentially sitting on large sums of cash in their homes. In the study, Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic explained:

“The CoreLogic Home Price Index recorded a quickening of home price gains during the fourth quarter of 2019, helping to boost home equity wealth. The average family with a mortgage had a $7,300 gain in home equity during the past year, and a total of $177,000 in home equity wealth.”

For most families, their home is their largest financial asset. This increase in equity drives the net worth, or family wealth, of the homeowner. Renters are not earning that benefit. Instead, they’re building the net worth of their landlord.

Bottom Line

Home price growth will moderate during the pandemic. But once a cure is available, most experts agree that home values will again begin to appreciate at levels similar to what we’ve seen over the last several years. In the long run, our family elders will be proven correct: owning a home is a savvy financial move.

Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020?

Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | Simplifying The Market

With the housing market staggered to some degree by the health crisis the country is currently facing, some potential purchasers are questioning whether home values will be impacted. The price of any item is determined by supply as well as the market’s demand for that item.

Each month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for the REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand) during this pandemic.

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | Simplifying The MarketThe darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 34 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now ‘strong’ and 16 of the 50 states have a ‘stable’ demand.

Seller Supply

The index also asks: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | Simplifying The MarketAs the map above indicates, 46 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 3 states reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 1 state reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the needs of buyers looking for homes right now.

With demand still stronger than supply, home values should not depreciate.

What are the experts saying?

Here are the thoughts of three industry experts on the subject:

Ivy Zelman:

“We note that inventory as a percent of households sits at the lowest level ever, something we believe will limit the overall degree of home price pressure through the year.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

“Housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s not likely to go negative.”

Freddie Mac:

“Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand.”

Bottom Line

Looking at these maps and listening to the experts, it seems that prices will remain stable throughout 2020. If you’re thinking about listing your home, let’s connect to discuss how you can capitalize on the somewhat surprising demand in the market now.

U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years

U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years | Simplifying The Market

For nearly two months, most of us have been following strict stay-at-home orders from our state and local governments. It is a whole new way of life that has put our daily lives on pause. On the other hand, many of us have also found a sense of comfort by slowing down and spending time at home, highlighting the feeling of security that comes with having a much-needed safe place for our families to live.
The latest results of the Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS) provided by the U.S. Census Bureau shows how Americans place immense value in homeownership, and it is continuing to grow in the United States. The results indicate that the homeownership rate increased to 65.3% for the first quarter of 2020, a number that has been rising since 2016 and is the highest we’ve seen in eight years (see graph below):U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years | Simplifying The MarketWhy is the rate increasing? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explained:

“Strong owner household formation with around 2.7 million homeowners added in the first quarter has driven up the homeownership rate, especially under the decreasing mortgage interest rates and strong new home sales and existing home sales in the first two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy.”

The NAHB also emphasizes the year-over-year increase in each generational group:

“The homeownership rates among all age groups increased in the first quarter 2020. Households under 35, mostly first-time homebuyers, registered the largest gains, with the homeownership rate up 1.9 percentage points from a year ago. Households ages 35-44 experienced a 1.2 percentage points gain, followed by the 55-64 age group (a 0.9 percentage point increase), the 45-54 age group (a 0.8 percentage point gain), and the 65+ group age (up by 0.2 percentage point).” (See chart below):

U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years | Simplifying The MarketHomeownership is an important part of the American dream, especially in moments like this when many are feeling incredibly grateful for the home they have to shelter in place with their families. COVID-19 may be slowing our lives down, but it is showing us the emotional value of homeownership too.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering buying a home this year, let’s connect to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to achieving your dream.

Buying a Home Right Now: Easy? No. Smart? Yes.

Buying a Home Right Now: Easy? No. Smart? Yes. | Simplifying The Market

Through all the volatility in the economy right now, some have put their search for a home on hold, yet others have not. According to ShowingTime, the real estate industry’s leading showing management technology provider, buyers have started to reappear over the last several weeks. In the latest report, they revealed:

“The March ShowingTime Showing Index® recorded the first nationwide drop in showing traffic in eight months as communities responded to COVID-19. Early April data show signs of an upswing, however.”

Why would people be setting appointments to look at prospective homes when the process of purchasing a home has become more difficult with shelter-in-place orders throughout the country?

Here are three reasons for this uptick in activity:

1. Some people need to move. Whether because of a death in the family, a new birth, divorce, financial hardship, or a job transfer, some families need to make a move as quickly as possible.

2. Real estate agents across the country have become very innovative, utilizing technology that allows purchasers to virtually:

  • View homes
  • Meet with mortgage professionals
  • Consult with their agent throughout the process

All of this can happen within the required safety protocols, so real estate professionals are continuing to help families make important moves.

3. Buyers understand that mortgage rates are a key component when determining their monthly mortgage payments. Mortgage interest rates are very close to all-time lows and afford today’s purchaser the opportunity to save tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan.

Looking closely at the third reason, we can see that there’s a big difference between purchasing a house last December and purchasing one now (see chart below):Buying a Home Right Now: Easy? No. Smart? Yes. | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Many families have decided not to postpone their plans to purchase a home, even in these difficult times. If you need to make a move, let’s connect today so you have a trusted advisor to safely and professionally guide you through the process.

The #1 Thing You Can Do Now to Position Yourself to Buy a Home This Year

The #1 Thing You Can Do Now to Position Yourself to Buy a Home This Year | Simplifying The Market

The last few weeks and months have caused a major health crisis throughout the world, leading to a pause in the U.S. economy as businesses and consumers work to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The rapid spread of the virus has been compared to prior pandemics and outbreaks not seen in many years. It also has consumers remembering the economic slowdown of 2008 that was caused by a housing crash. This economic slowdown, however, is very different from 2008.

One thing the experts are saying is that while we’ll see a swift decline in economic activity in the second quarter, we’ll begin a sharp rebound in the second half of this year. According to John Burns Consulting:

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.” 

Given this situation, if you’re thinking about buying a home this year, the best thing you can do right now is use this time to get pre-approved for a mortgage, which you can do from the comfort of your home. Pre-approval will help you better understand how much you can afford so that you can confidently do the following two things when you’re ready to buy:

1. Gain a Competitive Advantage

Today’s low inventory, like we’ve seen recently and will continue to see, means homebuyers need every advantage they can get to make a strong offer and close the deal. Being pre-approved shows the sellers you’re serious about buying a home, which is always a plus in your corner.

2. Accelerate the Homebuying Process

Pre-approval can also speed-up the homebuying process so you can move faster when you’re ready to make an offer. Being ready to put your best foot forward when the time comes may be the leg-up you need to cross the finish line first and land the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

Pre-approval is the best thing you can do right now to be in a stronger position to buy a home when you’re ready. Let’s connect today to get the process started.

Two Big Myths in the Homebuying Process

Two Big Myths in the Homebuying Process | Simplifying The Market

The 2020 Millennial Home Buyer Report shows how this generation is not really any different from previous ones when it comes to homeownership goals:

“The majority of millennials not only want to own a home, but 84% of millennials in 2019 considered it a major part of the American Dream.”

Unfortunately, the myths surrounding the barriers to homeownership – especially those related to down payments and FICO® scores – might be keeping many buyers out of the arena. The piece also reveals:

“Millennials have to navigate a lot of obstacles to be able to own a home. According to our 2020 survey, saving for a down payment is the biggest barrier for 50% of millennials.”

Millennial or not, unpacking two of the biggest myths that may be standing in the way of homeownership among all generations is a great place to start the debunking process.

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Many buyers often overestimate what they need to qualify for a home loan. According to the same article:

“A down payment of 20% for a home of that price [$210,000] would be about $42,000; only about 30% of the millennials in our survey have enough in savings to cover that, not to mention the additional closing costs.”

While many potential buyers still think they need to put at least 20% down for the home of their dreams, they often don’t realize how many assistance programs are available with as little as 3% down. With a bit of research, many renters may be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher”

In addition to down payments, buyers are also often confused about the FICO® score it takes to qualify for a mortgage, believing they need a credit score of 780 or higher.

Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans, shows the truth is, over 50% of approved loans were granted with a FICO® score below 750 (see graph below):Two Big Myths in the Homebuying Process | Simplifying The MarketEven today, many of the myths of the homebuying process are unfortunately keeping plenty of motivated buyers on the sidelines. In reality, it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you may have more options than you think. Let’s connect to answer your questions and help you determine your next steps.