75% of Renters Have Been Misinformed

Recently, multiple headlines have been written asserting that homeownership is less affordable today than at any other time in the last decade. Though the headlines are accurate, they lack context and lead too many Americans to believe that they can’t partake in a major part of the American Dream – owning a home. In 2008, the housing market crashed and home values fell by as much as 60% in certain markets. This was the major trigger to the Great Recession we experienced from 2008 to 2010. To come back from that recession, mortgage interest rates were pushed down to levels that were never seen before. For the last ten years, you could purchase a home at a dramatically discounted price and attain a mortgage at a historically low mortgage rate. Affordability skyrocketed. Now that home values have returned to where they should be, and mortgage rates are beginning to increase, it is less affordable to own a home than it was over the last ten years. However, what is not being reported is that it is MORE AFFORDABLE to own a home today than at any other time since 1985 (when data was first collected on this point). If you take out the years after the crash, affordability today is greater than it has been at almost any time in American history. This has not been adequately reported which has led to many Americans believing that they cannot currently afford a home. As an example, the latest edition of Freddie…

Buying a Home Can Be Scary… Until You Know the Facts [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights: Many potential homebuyers believe that they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home which stops many of them from even trying! Here are some facts: 72% of buyers who purchased homes this year have put down less than 20%. 76.4% of loan applications were approved last month. The average credit score of approved loans was 727 in September.

Housing Is Still Affordable in the United States!

Lately, there have been many headlines circulating about whether or not there is an “affordability issue forming in the housing market.” If you are considering selling your current house and moving up to the home of your dreams, but are unsure whether or not to believe what you’re seeing in the news, let’s look at the results of the latest Housing Affordability Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). According to NAR: “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. An index above 100 signifies that a family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.” The national index results for August came in at 141.2. This is up from 138.9 in July, but down 8.3% from last August’s value of 153.9. One big factor in determining affordability each month is the interest rate available at the time of calculation. In August 2017, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rate was 4.19%. This August, the rate rose to 4.78%! With an index reading of 141.2, housing remains affordable in the U.S. Regionally, affordability is up in three out of four regions. The Northeast had the biggest gain at 6.2%. The South had an increase of 2.4% followed by the West with a slight increase of 0.1%. The Midwest had the only dip in affordability at…

Will Home Prices Continue to Increase?

There are many unsubstantiated theories about what is happening with home prices. From those who are worried that prices are falling (data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion. However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase. It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything greater than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart below). According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the monthly inventory of homes for sale has been below six months for the last five years (see chart below). Bottom Line If buyer demand continues to outpace the current supply of existing homes for sale, prices will continue to appreciate. Nothing nefarious is taking place. It is simply the theory of supply & demand working as it should.

Pre-Approval: Your 1st Step in Buying a Home

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach. Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website: “It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.” One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you through this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow: Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash Collateral: The home, or type of…

Dispelling the Myth About Home Affordability

We have all seen the headlines that report that buying a home is less affordable today than it was at any other time in the last ten years, and those headlines are accurate. But, have you ever wondered why the headlines don’t say the last 25 years, the last 20 years, or even the last 11 years? The reason is that homes were less affordable 25, 20, or even 11 years ago than they are today. Obviously, buying a home is more expensive now than during the ten years immediately following one of the worst housing crashes in American history. Over the past decade, the market was flooded with distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) that were selling at 10-50% discounts. There were so many distressed properties that the prices of non-distressed properties in the same neighborhoods were lowered and mortgage rates were kept low to help the economy. Low Prices + Low Mortgage Rates = High Affordability Prices have since recovered and mortgage rates have increased as the economy has gained strength. This has and will continue to impact housing affordability moving forward. However, let’s give affordability some historical context. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) issues their Affordability Index each month. According to NAR: “The Monthly Housing Affordability Index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent monthly price and income data.” NAR’s current index…

Buying a Home is Cheaper than Renting in 38 States! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights: According to a study by GOBankingRates, it is cheaper to buy a home than rent in 38 states across the country. In six states the difference between buying & renting would account for less than a $50 monthly difference, leaving the choice up to the individual family. Nationwide, it is now 26.3% cheaper to buy.

The Cost of NOT Paying PMI

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer as median incomes, rents, and home prices all vary depending on where you live. There is a common misconception among homebuyers that a 20% down payment is required, and it is this limiting belief that often adds months, and sometimes even years, to the home-buying process. So, if you can purchase a home with less than a 20% down payment… why aren’t more people doing just that? One Possible Answer: Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Freddie Mac defines PMI as: “An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%. Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.” As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. The monthly cost of your PMI depends on the home’s value, the amount of your down payment, and your credit score. Below is a table showing the difference in monthly mortgage payment for a $250,000 home with a 3% down payment and PMI vs. a 20% down payment without PMI: The first thing you see when looking at the table above is no doubt the added $320 a month that you would be spending on your monthly mortgage…

5 Real Estate Reality TV Myths Explained

Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We’ve all been there, watching entire seasons of “Love it or List it,” “Million Dollar Listing,” “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” and so many more all in one sitting. When you’re in the middle of your real estate themed show marathon, you might start to think that everything you see on TV must be how it works in real life, but you may need a reality check. Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life: Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and decide to purchase one of them.Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of Realtors the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search.   Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.Truth: Everything is staged for TV. Many of the homes being shown are already sold and are off the market.  Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet.Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy.  Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the open house.Truth: Of course, this would be great! Open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area…

Buying Is Now 26.3% Cheaper Than Renting in the US

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting, with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage, in 98 of the 100 largest metro areas in the United States. In the six years that Trulia has conducted this study, this is the first time that it was cheaper to rent than buy in any of the metropolitan areas. It’s no surprise, however, that those two metros are San Jose and San Francisco, CA, where median home prices have jumped to over $1 million dollars this year. Home values in San Jose have risen 29% in the last year, while rents have remained relatively unchanged. For the 98 metros where homeownership wins out, 97 of them show a double-digit advantage when buying. The range is an average of 2.0% less expensive in Honolulu (HI), all the way up to 48.9% in Detroit (MI), and 26.3% nationwide! Below is a map of the 100 metros that were studied. The darker the blue dot on the metro, the cheaper it is to buy there. In order to calculate the true cost of renting vs. buying, Trulia includes all assumed renting costs, including one-time costs (like security deposits), and compares them to the monthly costs of owning a home (insurance, mortgage payments, taxes, and maintenance) including one-time costs (down payments, closing costs, sale proceeds). They also assume that households stay in their home for seven years, put down a 20% down payment, and take out a 30-year fixed rate…