Category: For Buyers

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The Importance of Home Equity in Building Wealth

The Importance of Home Equity in Building Family Wealth | Simplifying The Market

Homeownership has always been the first rung on the ladder leading to household wealth. As Freddie Mac recently posted:

“Homeownership has cemented its role as part of the American Dream, providing families with a place that is their own and an avenue for building wealth over time. This ‘wealth’ is built, in large part, through the creation of equity…Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.”

Home equity is the difference between the current market value of your house and the amount you currently owe on your mortgage. To estimate your equity, subtract your mortgage balance from the market value of your home.

You can find what you owe on your mortgage by looking at your last monthly statement or by contacting your lender. If you need help determining the current market value of your home, contact a local real estate professional.

Is homeownership truly a better path to wealth than renting?

Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of property taxes and home repairs. Every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs (property taxes, repairs, insurance, etc.) are already baked into the rent payment – along with a profit margin. You don’t save money by renting.

As proof of this, First American broke down the net worth of homeowners and renters by income categories. Here are their findings:The Importance of Home Equity in Building Wealth | Simplifying The MarketOnly one income category ($127-192K) has a higher net worth for renters over homeowners. Every other category shows that being a homeowner leads to greater accumulated wealth.

According to the latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, the average homeowner gained $17,000 in equity in just the last year. Here’s a breakdown of the year-over-year equity gain by state:The Importance of Home Equity in Building Wealth | Simplifying The Market

When can you cash in on your housing wealth?

Your home equity is part of your total wealth as a homeowner. The two most common ways homeowners can leverage their wealth are:

  • Selling
  • Refinancing

Selling: When you decide to sell your home, the equity you’ve built over time will come back to you in the sale. For example, if you paid off your $200,000 mortgage and sold your home for $350,000, you would receive $150,000 after closing.

Refinancing: You can refinance your current mortgage and take out some of the equity you have accumulated. With today’s historically low mortgage rates, you may be able to take out substantial cash and keep your monthly payment the same. Thankfully, homeowners today are doing this responsibly and not repeating the same mistakes made in 2006-2008 when some cashed out their entire equity to purchase luxury items like new cars, lavish vacations, etc.

How can these options help homeowners?

During these difficult times, many households are struggling with their housing expenses. Homeowners, because of their equity, have better alternatives. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, recently explained that homeowners financially impacted by the pandemic will not necessarily be faced with foreclosure:

“The foreclosure process is based on two steps. First, the homeowner suffers an adverse economic shock…leading to the homeowner becoming delinquent on their mortgage. However, delinquency by itself is not enough to send a mortgage into foreclosure. With enough equity, a homeowner has the option of selling their home, or tapping into their equity through a refinance, to help weather the economic shock.”

What might the future bring?

Most experts are calling for home prices to continue appreciating going forward. The Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of a national panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists, indicates appreciation will continue for at least the next five years. Using their annual projections, the graph below shows the equity build-up a purchaser would potentially earn by buying a $300,000 home this January:The Importance of Home Equity in Building Wealth | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Home equity, for most Americans, is the quickest way to build household wealth. That wealth gives homeowners more options during good times and in difficult situations.

Why Not to Wait Until Spring to Make a Move

Why Not to Wait Until Spring to Make a Move | Simplifying The Market

The housing market recovery coming into the new year has been nothing short of remarkable. Many experts agree the turnaround from the nation’s economic pause is playing out extremely well for real estate, and the current market conditions are truly making this winter an ideal time to make a move. Here’s a dive into some of the biggest wins for homebuyers this season.

1. Mortgage Rates Are Historically Low

In 2020, mortgage rates hit all-time lows 16 times. Continued low rates have set buyers up for significant long-term gains. In fact, realtor.com notes:

“Given this means homes could cost potentially tens of thousands less over the lifetime of the loan.”

Essentially, it’s less expensive to borrow money for a home loan today than it has been in years past. Although mortgage rates are expected to remain relatively low in 2021, even the slightest increase can make a big difference in your payments over the lifetime of a home loan. So, this is a huge opportunity to capitalize on right now before mortgage rates start to rise.

2. Equity Is Growing

According to John Burns Consulting, 58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity, and 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear.

In addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity homeowners gained since last year is $17,000. That’s a tremendous amount of forced savings for homeowners, and an opportunity to use this increasing equity to make a move into a home that fits your changing needs this season.

3. Home Prices Are Appreciating

According to leading experts, home prices are forecasted to continue appreciating. Today, many experts are projecting more moderate home price growth than last year, but still moving in an upward direction through 2021.

Knowing home values are increasing while mortgage rates are so low should help you feel confident that buying a home before prices rise even higher is a strong long-term investment.

4. There Are Not Enough Homes for Sale

With today’s low inventory of homes on the market, which is contributing to this home price appreciation, sellers are in the driver’s seat. The competition is high among buyers, so homes are selling quickly.

Making a move while so many buyers are looking for homes to purchase may mean your house rises to the top of the buyer pool. Selling your house before more listings come to the market in the traditionally busy spring market might be your best chance to shine.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering making a move, this may be your moment, especially with today’s low mortgage rates and limited inventory. Let’s connect to get you set up for homebuying success in the new year.

Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market

Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

The housing market was a shining star in 2020, fueling the economic turnaround throughout the country. As we look forward to 2021, can we expect real estate to continue showing such promise? Here’s what four experts have to say about the year ahead.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR)

“In 2021, I think rates will be similar or modestly higher, maybe 3%…So, mortgage rates will continue to be historically favorable.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com

“We expect sales to grow 7 percent and prices to rise another 5.7 percent on top of 2020’s already high levels.”

Robert Dietz, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

“With home builder confidence near record highs, we expect continued gains for single-family construction, albeit at a lower growth rate than in 2019. Some slowing of new home sales growth will occur due to the fact that a growing share of sales has come from homes that have not started construction. Nonetheless, buyer traffic will remain strong given favorable demographics, a shifting geography of housing demand to lower-density markets and historically low interest rates.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American

“Mortgage rates are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future and millennials will continue forming households, keeping demand robust, even if income growth moderates. Despite the best intentions of home builders to provide more housing supply, the big short in housing supply will continue into 2021 and likely keep house price appreciation flying high.”

Bottom Line

Whether you’re ready to buy or sell a home in 2021, if you’re planning to take advantage of the market this winter, let’s connect to talk about the opportunities available in our local market.

More Generations Are Living Under One Roof This Year

More Generations Are Living under One Roof This Year | Simplifying The Market

This year challenged us to reprioritize everything – from the way we use our time to where we work, how we socialize and gather together, and our needs at home. For many, this also meant making decisions about how to best support and engage with our extended families, near and far.

In some cases, we weren’t able to see our relatives and loved ones who were living in senior facilities. In others, maybe older children moved back home. Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

A lot of families have an aging senior relative who was living independently or in senior care and wanted to move them into their home.

These changes led more homebuyers to invest in multi-generational homes to accommodate more long-term plans. A multi-generational home, according to the 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from NAR, is a home that has adult siblings, adult children over the age of 18, parents, and/or grandparents in the household.

A recent study from NAR shows that since the health crisis began, there’s been an increase in purchasing trends for homes that cater to this dynamic:

“Buyers who purchased after March were more likely to purchase a multi-generational home at 15% compared to 11% who purchased before April.”

There are many reasons for this uptick in preference toward multi-generational homes. The graph below shows the top two reasons and how they’ve increased this year:More Generations Are Living under One Roof This Year | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

More homeowners are making arrangements to accommodate their loved ones so they can safely take care of them at home. If you’re in a similar situation, let’s connect to discuss your options in our local area and maybe even have your whole family under one roof by early next year.

Turning a House into a Happy Home

Turning a House into a Happy Home | Simplifying The Market

We talk a lot about why it makes financial sense to buy a home, but more often than not, we’re drawn to the emotional reasons for homeownership.

No matter the living space, the feeling of a home means different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the feel-good connections to our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones. Here are some of the reasons why.

1. Owning your home is an accomplishment worth celebrating

You’ve likely worked very hard to achieve this dream, and whether it’s your first home or your fifth, congratulations are in order for this milestone. You’ve earned it.

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers not only safety and security but also a comfortable place where you can simply relax and kick-back after a long day. Sometimes, that’s just what we need to feel recharged and truly content.

3. You can find more space to meet your needs

Whether you want more room in your home for your changing lifestyle (think: working from home, virtual school, or a personal gym), or you simply prefer to have a large backyard for socially-distant entertaining, you can invest in a location that truly works for your evolving needs.

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and your style

Looking to try one of those complicated wall treatments you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Maybe you want to finally adopt that fur-baby puppy or kitten you’ve been hoping for. You can do all of these things in your own home.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that turn a house into a happy home.

The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership

The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

Over the past year, mortgage rates have fallen more than a full percentage point, hitting a new historic low 15 times. This is a great driver for homeownership, as today’s low rates provide consumers with some significant benefits. Here’s a look at three of them.

1. Move-up or Downsize: One option is to consider moving into a new home, putting the equity you’ve likely gained in your current house toward a down payment on a new one that better meets your needs – something that’s truly a perfect fit, especially if your lifestyle has changed this year.

2. Become a First-Time Homebuyer: There are many financial and non-financial benefits to owning a home, and the most important thing is to first decide when the time is right for you. You have to determine that on your own, but know that now is a great time to buy if you’re considering it. Just take a look at the cost of renting vs. buying.

3. Refinance: If you already own a home, you may decide you’re going to refinance. It’s one way to lock in a lower monthly payment and save more over time. However, it also means paying upfront closing costs, too. If you want to take this route, you have to answer the question: Should I refinance my home?

Why 2020 Was a Great Year for Homeownership

Last year, the average mortgage rate was 3.93% (substantially higher than it is today). If you waited for a better time to make a move, market conditions have improved significantly. Today’s low mortgage rates are a huge perk for buyers, so it’s a great time to get more for your money and consider a new home.

The chart below shows how much you would save per month based on today’s rates compared to what you would have paid if you purchased a home exactly one year ago, depending on how much you finance:The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you’ve been waiting since last year to make your move into homeownership or to find a house that better meets your needs, today’s low mortgage rates may be just what you need to get the process going. Let’s connect today to discuss how you may benefit from the current rates.

The Do’s and Don’ts after Applying for a Mortgage

The Do’s and Don’ts after Applying for a Mortgage | Simplifying The Market

Once you’ve found the right home and applied for a mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. You’re undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new place, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any major life changes, consult your lender – someone who is qualified to tell you how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.

Below is a list of things you shouldn’t do after applying for a mortgage. They’re all important to know – or simply just good reminders – for the process.

1. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts Before Speaking with Your Bank or Lender. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

2. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios. Higher ratios make for riskier loans, and then sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

3. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone. When you co-sign, you’re obligated. With that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

4. Don’t Change Bank Accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is significantly easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.

5. Don’t Apply for New Credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be impacted. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

6. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts. Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants of your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. The best plan is to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.

Homeowner Equity Increases an Astonishing $1 Trillion

Homeowner Equity Increases an Astonishing $1 Trillion | Simplifying The Market

In a year that was financially devastating for many Americans, some good news for most homeowners is the dramatic gain in home equity over the last twelve months. Last week, CoreLogic released its 2020 3rd Quarter Homeowner Equity Insights report, which reveals four major findings:

  1. S. homeowners with mortgages have seen their equity increase by a total of $1 trillion since the third quarter of 2019.
  2. The average homeowner gained approximately $17,000 in equity over the past year.
  3. This is a 10.8% increase in equity over last year.
  4. The average household with a mortgage now has $194,000 in home equity.

This has given many homeowners the ability to redesign their homes to meet their changing needs. Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains in the report:

“The housing market has remained a strong pillar in an otherwise tumultuous economic year. A sharp rise in demand, spurred by record-low interest rates, continues to bolster homeowner equity. And with many people now spending more time than ever before at home, some homeowners have tapped into their strengthening equity to fund renovations.”

This build-up in equity also gives more options to homeowners who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Today, homeowners with substantial equity are in a much better position to work out a deal with their lender if they cannot pay their mortgage. Alternatively, they also have the power to sell and walk away with their equity in the form of cash or as a down payment toward a more affordable house. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, addresses the issue in the report:

“Over the past year, strong home price growth has created a record level of home equity for homeowners…This provides an important buffer to protect families if they experience financial difficulties and is one reason for the generational-low in foreclosure rates reported.”

Here’s a map showing equity gains by state:Homeowner Equity Increases an Astonishing $1 Trillion | Simplifying The MarketThis gain in home equity is a blessing for homeowners in these trying times, and it seems that the next two years will continue to reward those who own a home.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) held their 2020 Real Estate Forecast Summit. At the summit, they shared the results of a recent survey of 23 economic and housing market experts. The median forecast among the experts called for home values to increase further by 8% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022.

Bottom Line

In a year that has many of us reevaluating what “home” really means, those who own their homes have been rewarded with a financial windfall that averages $17,000 individually and totals $1 trillion nationally.

3 Reasons to Be Optimistic about Real Estate in 2021

3 Reasons to Be Optimistic about Real Estate in 2021 | Simplifying The Market

This year will be remembered for many reasons, and optimism is one thing that’s been in short supply since the spring. We’re experiencing a global pandemic, social unrest, an economic downturn, and natural disasters, just to name a few. The challenges brought on by the health crisis have also forced many homeowners to reevaluate their space and what they need in a home going into 2021. So, experts are forecasting that next year is one in which we can be optimistic about real estate for three key reasons.

1. The Economy Is Expected to Continue Improving

Tim Duy from the University of Oregon puts it this way:

“There is nothing fundamentally ‘broken’ in the economy that needs to heal…there was no obvious financial bubble driving excessive activity in any one economic sector when the pandemic hit…With Covid-19 cases surging again, it is understandably hard to look optimistically to the other side of this winter…Don’t let the near-term challenges distract from the economic stage being set for next four years.”

2. Interest Rates Are Projected to Stay Low

In the latest projections from Freddie Mac, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are expected to remain at or near 3% next year. These low rates will continue to make homes more affordable, driving demand for housing in 2021.3 Reasons to Be Optimistic about Real Estate in 2021 | Simplifying The Market

3. Future Home Sales Are Forecasted to Grow

While the economy improves and interest rates remain low, homes are also expected to continue appreciating as more people buy in the coming year. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says:

“We expect home sales in 2021 to come in 7.0% above 2020 levels, following a more normal seasonal trend and building momentum through the spring and sustaining the pace in the second half of the year.”

Bottom Line

Experts forecast that buyers and sellers are going to be active in 2021. If you’ve thought about buying or selling your home this year but have held off, now may be the time to take advantage of this market. Let’s connect to take the first step toward your new home today.

The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year

The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year | Simplifying The Market

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, yet finding the perfect holiday gifts for friends and family is certainly still top of mind for many right now. This year, there’s another type of buyer that’s very active this holiday season – the homebuyer.

Each month, ShowingTime releases their Showing Index which tracks the average number of appointments received on active U.S. house listings. The most recent index notes:

“The Showing Index reported a 60.9 percent jump in nationwide showing traffic year over year in October, the sixth consecutive month to see an increase over last year.”

Here’s the breakdown of the latest activity by region of the country compared to this time last year:

  • The Northeast increased by 65.5%
  • The West increased by 64.7%
  • The Midwest increased by 55.7%
  • The South increased by 54.7%

Why is the traffic so active?

The health crisis definitely put homebuying plans on pause for many earlier this year. Buyers, however, are in the market and making moves well past the typical busy homebuying seasons of spring and summer.

One of the main reasons buyer traffic has continued to soar in the second half of 2020 is how dramatically mortgage rates have fallen. According to Freddie Mac, the average mortgage rate last December was 3.72%. Today, the rate is a full percentage point lower.

Bottom Line

There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your house in 2021, you don’t need to wait until the spring to do it. Your potential buyer is very likely searching for a home in your neighborhood right now.