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14 Things to Avoid Before Buying a House

14 Things to Avoid Before Buying a House

Many first-time home buyers are surprised to discover just how many ways you can mess up a home purchase. You may have got your pre-approval, found a home you loved and made an offer. But if you want to avoid messing up the transaction, you will need to be extremely careful until the sale has closed.

Keep reading as I tackle what not to do before buying a house. Many of these items are mortgage mistakes that can be easily avoided. If you have an exceptional mortgage broker or real estate agent, more than likely a few of these points have already been mentioned.

Use the following tips to protect yourself and your home purchase. In fact, be sure to check out what you should do before buying a home. These twenty tips will help you make the best buying decision possible.

Making mistakes is easy when you have never bought a home before. Avoid these home buying mistakes to keep the stress out of your life!

  1. Don’t miss loan payments.

You must keep your payments current on all your loan accounts, including credit cards and car loans. The lender will look at your credit again before finalizing your mortgage, and if you have missed any payments, it may lead to you losing the loan.

Many buyers mistakenly believe that once the lender issues their loan commitment, they are golden. This is NOT the case!  Lenders have the power to revoke a mortgage commitment and will do so if they see fit. Not too long ago a buyer was purchasing a home I listed in Millbury Mass. The buyer had been selling and buying a house simultaneously. They closed on their existing home but didn’t make their last mortgage payment.

Unfortunately, this was flagged on their credit report and prevented the buyer from getting the loan for their new purchase.

They had to apply at a new bank under a different program (FHA instead of conventional). Needless to say, this caused their purchase to be delayed, and in the process, they lost thousands of dollars.

  1. Be careful before you consolidate your debt.

Debt consolidation can be tempting when you finally start looking at buying a home. Most consolidation offers make it possible for you to bring all your debt under one umbrella payment, which makes sense for some people.

But there are also often hidden fees and interest rates that can increase dramatically without warning. Consolidation may not improve your credit in the way you expect, so be sure to read all the fine print.

  1. Avoid changing jobs.

It goes without saying that changing jobs is not something you should do in the middle of purchasing a home! One of the things lenders look closely at is your employment history. They want to be sure that you are financially stable and capable of making your loan payments.

By changing a job before you get your loan, you make yourself less appealing to the lender. Changing situations may cause the lender think you are unstable, or that you won’t have a steady income to keep up with the mortgage. The word stability is something lenders love.

Keep your move under wraps until after the closing takes place.

  1. Don’t shift your finances around before getting the loan.

When a lender pre-approves you, the approval is based on the current state of your finances. You want to maintain that state – the one that got you the pre-approval – at all costs. Sometimes buyers make the mistake of shifting their money around to better position themselves, but this is a mistake.

Wait to make any financial changes until after you have gotten your mortgage. If a lender sees you moving money around various accounts, they will ask for an explanation.

You will need to give them a detailed accounting of why you moved your money around. Avoid making this mistake and keep your money in one place before closing.

  1. Don’t start banking at a new institution.

Your bank may have made you angry or upset. Or maybe you saw a great offer from a competing bank that you just can’t pass up. Well, you do need to pass it up, because changing banks before getting your loan can disrupt everything.

Just like the job and the finances, your banking history and status is part of the equation that leads to you getting pre-approved. Change your bank, and you may not get final approval.

  1. Avoid buying a car…or motorcycle, RV, boat, etc.

Without a doubt buying a car while also purchasing a home is a common mistake. Doing so is also at the top of the list of what you shouldn’t do before buying a home. Sometimes the feeling of knowing you are finally going to get a home of your own can be so exciting that you start looking at other ways to improve your life – like buying a car.

Unfortunately, purchasing a car can throw a wrench into your home buying plans. Your loan pre-approval was based on the state of your credit and your debt load at the time of pre-approval before you bought a car. Adding the debt that the car purchase will bring may make you unable to get the loan for your home.

  1. Don’t buy furniture or household goods on credit.

Another mistake many home buyers make is using credit to start preparing for their new living arrangements. You may want to start buying furniture and appliances to fill up your new home and make it truly yours, but hold back.

Taking on new debt, even for furniture or other household related items, will change the state of your credit and may throw up a flag for the lender that leads to the loss of your loan approval.

  1. Avoid making large deposits into your bank account or making cash deposits.

Money that appears suddenly in your bank account makes lenders uneasy. In fact, they prefer for you to have the money that is going to your down payment in the same account for at least two months.

Lenders refer to the two month period as “seasoning,” and consider it a demonstration of stability and your ability to cover the loan payments. Whenever you make a significant deposit or start doing unusual or unexpected things with your finances before the home purchase, the lender may begin to scrutinize the loan and might back out.

The bank could, in fact, think it’s fishy to see large deposits moving in and out of your account, especially if that hasn’t happened before. Doing as little as possible to make a lender scrutinize your finances.

  1. Avoid lying or stretching the truth on your loan inquiry.

You may have no intention of lying about your finances when you fill out a loan application, but the point needs to be stated regardless. Lying on a loan application is fraud, and if the lender finds out that you mislead in any way, you will almost certainly lose your loan.

Even stretching the truth or making an honest mistake that is inaccurate, can cause you significant problems if the truth is discovered. So be very, very careful that all the information you put down is entirely accurate. Falsifying knowledge is a definite no-no when applying for a mortgage.

This a significant home buying mistake that can put you in a horrible spot.

  1. Don’t let anyone make inquiries into your credit.

Any time you apply for a credit card, a loan or even try to sign up for a new service, like a cell phone service, the company you are working with will probably make a credit inquiry. They do this to determine if you are a safe risk, much as the mortgage lender does.

But when the mortgage company sees that inquiries are being made, it may assume you are trying to take out more debt – even if you aren’t. While one or two queries may not be enough to lose your home loan, there is no reason to take unnecessary risks when you are so close to getting your home.

One mortgage myth worth knowing – having your credit checked by multiple lenders when buying a home does not affect your credit score all that much.

From MyFICO – “FICO scores are more predictive when they treat loans that commonly involve rate-shopping, such as mortgage, auto, and student loans, differently. For these types of loans, FICO Scores ignore inquiries made in the 30 days before scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your scores while you’re rate shopping.”

  1. Don’t spend the money you are going to use to cover closing costs.

For many home buyers, the period surrounding the home purchase is one of financial scarcity. Money may be tight right now, which can make the money you saved to cover closing costs tempting. But avoid spending it.

The last thing you want is to be unable to cover closing costs when you are at the point where you almost have your new home. Stay strong and avoid spending it if you can help it. AND, Don’t overspend on a home!

  1. Don’t overextend yourself.

When buying a home, lots of lenders will gladly give you what they think you can afford on paper. What you qualify on paper, however, doesn’t necessarily mean what you’ll be comfortable living on day to day.

Some buyers make the mistake of really overextending themselves. They end up becoming a slave to their home. If going out to a nice dinner from time to time is something you have been accustomed to be more conservative with your house purchase.

  1. Avoid being a co-signer for anyone.

When you co-sign a loan, you are obligating yourself financially. It does not matter that you are not the primary person on the loan. If the lender needs money and is unable to get it anywhere else, it will come looking for you to pay.

Home lenders are well aware of this fact and are therefore disapproving of any applicant that decides to co-sign. As with all the other points listed above, you need to focus on keeping your credit and financial situation stable and constant until you have closed on the house.

No matter how badly you may want to help out a friend or family member, try to postpone co-signing until you have the money for your home purchase.

  1. Don’t spend more than the value of the home.

There are times when real estate markets become extremely hot! In real estate jargon, we call this a “seller’s market.” Most of the country has been experiencing these conditions over the last few years. Buyers have been put in the position where winning bidding wars are the norm, not the exception in many places.

In fact, you’re more likely to see fancy ways to beat the next guy to the punch like an escalation clause in an offer. When you are in an environment such as this, it is easy to overspend as a buyer. After all, if you have lost out on a few homes, you’re more than likely going to reach to get a house you love.

When involved with multiple offers it is not uncommon for the sale price to be pushed significantly above asking. While the buyer may be willing to do this, a lender may not. When the home doesn’t appraise, the borrower may be stuck putting up more money or risk losing the house. You can’t assume the seller will be cooperative and drop their price. You could be rejected for the loan if you can’t make up the difference.

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Housing Affordability

The Ultimate Truth About Housing Affordability

There have been many headlines decrying an “affordability crisis” in the residential real estate market. While it is true that buying a home is less affordable than it had been over the last ten years, we need to understand why and what that means.

On a monthly basis, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), produces a Housing Affordability Index. According to NAR, the 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 price and income data.”

Their methodology states:

“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. An index above 100 signifies that 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.”

So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here is a graph of the index going back to 1990:

The Ultimate Truth about Housing Affordability | Keeping Current Matters

It is true that the index is lower today than any year from 2009 to 2017. However, we must realize the main reason homes were more affordable. That period of time immediately followed a housing crash and there were large numbers of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). Those properties were sold at large discounts.

Today, the index is higher than any year from 1990 to 2008. Based on historic home affordability data, that means homes are more affordable right now than any other time besides the time following the housing crisis.

With mortgage rates remaining low and wages finally increasing, we can see that it is MORE AFFORDABLE to purchase a home today than it was last year!

Bottom Line

With wages increasing, price appreciation moderating, and mortgage rates remaining near all-time lows, purchasing a home is a great move based on historic affordability numbers.

Courtesy NAR & Keeping Current Matters

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4 Tips For Making A Competitive Offer

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call ‘home,’ and you’ve finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Below are 4 steps provided by Freddie Mac to help buyers make offers, along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Determine Your Price

“You’ve found the perfect home and you’re ready to buy. Now what? Your real estate agent will be by your side, helping you determine an offer price that is fair.”

Based on your agent’s experience and key considerations (like similar homes recently sold in the same neighborhood or the condition of the house and what you can afford), your agent will help you to determine the offer that you are going to present.

Getting pre-approved will not only show home-sellers that you are serious about buying, but it will also allow you to make your offer with confidence because you’ll know that you have already been approved for a mortgage in that amount.

2. Submit an Offer

“Once you’ve determined your price, your agent will draw up an offer, or purchase agreement, to submit to the seller’s real estate agent. This offer will include the purchase price and terms and conditions of the purchase.”

Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways in which you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market! A licensed real estate agent who is active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer.

3. Negotiate the Offer

“Oftentimes, the seller will counter the offer, typically asking for a higher purchase price or to adjust the closing date. In these cases, the seller’s agent will submit a counteroffer to your agent, detailing their desired changes, at this time, you can either accept the offer or decide if you want to counter.Each time changes are made through a counteroffer, you or the seller have the option to accept, reject or counter it again. The contract is considered final when both parties sign the written offer.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller or even cancel the contract altogether.

4. Act Fast

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as quickly as possible.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in his or her market is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Happy house hunting!

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Harvard Housing Study

JOINT CENTER FOR HOUSING STUDIES OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY – 2019

Harvard released its comprehensive study on housing trends and the current state of housing.  The report begins with the Executive Summary:

With new construction still slow to recover from historic lows, almost 80 percent of the nation’s 137 million homes are now at least 20 years old and 40 percent are at least 50 years old. The aging of the US housing stock has been a boon to the home improvement industry, helping to lift the remodeling market to nearly $425 billion in 2017, according to the latest estimates from the Joint Center for Housing Studies. 

Indeed, in the years since the Great Recession, spending on improvements and routine maintenance to both owner-occupied and rental properties has not only increased the value of the existing stock but also contributed a dominant share of residential investment. In addition, the tens of millions of projects undertaken annually—from roof and window replacements to major kitchen and bath remodels—generated 2.2 percent of national economic activity in 2017.

Some of the recent strength of the remodeling market reflects a significant increase in spending by rental property owners. The surge in rental demand following the housing crisis prompted owners to invest in substantial upgrades to their units. Homeowners also had some catching up to do on maintenance and replacements deferred during the downturn, particularly on properties converted to rentals or left vacant for extended periods.

Get the full report here:  Harvard JCHS Housing Study

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5 Big Reasons to Sell Your Home This Year

5 Big Reasons to Sell Your Home This Year
(Because It Could Get Tougher)

Rachel Stults | Feb 20, 2019 | Realtor.com

It’s no secret that life’s been pretty good to sellers for the past several years. Even if you had no need—or desire—to move, the housing landscape might have seriously tempted you to put your house on the market anyway. After all, it’s hard not to see visions of dollar signs when your neighbors are unloading their homes for tens of thousands over asking price.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. And you’ve probably heard that the white-hot housing market of years past is finally beginning to cool.

So if you haven’t listed your home before now, did you miss the boat? Absolutely not. But with each passing month, the experts say, you can expect the housing climate to shift a bit more in buyers’ favor.

“It’s definitely still a seller’s market in most of the country. But it’s not the same seller’s market that you saw in the last couple of years,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist of realtor.com®. “You might have to think about how your home compares to the competition that buyers are going to see when they’re shopping. And you might have to price a little bit more competitively, or think about other enticements to attract buyers.”

There’s still a chance to cash in for top dollar, though, if you move quickly. Here are the biggest reasons to sell ASAP in 2019.

  1. You won’t be the only listing for long

The top reason sellers have been in the catbird seat for the past several years? Inventory. There simply weren’t enough homes on the market to keep up with buyer demand. And when a “For Sale” sign did go up, you can bet a bidding war would soon follow.

“You might have been the only listing in your neighborhood, and you could put your home up at a certain list price and you would likely see multiple offers at or above that list price,” Hale explains.

That tide is turning this year, Hale says. That’s because the number of homes for sale is finally increasing, albeit slowly. For now, buyers still outnumber inventory. But if you’re thinking about selling and don’t want to compete with your neighbors, it’ll pay off (literally) to list earlier rather than later.

“It’s going to depend on what neighborhood you’re in, but we expect it to be more common this year that you won’t be the only listing,” Hale says.

  1. You still stand to make a ‘handsome profit’

Home prices have been on a meteoric rise for the past seven years. In January 2012, the U.S. median home price was $154,700. Today, that figure has nearly doubled—to $289,300—and sellers have rejoiced.

Now comes a twist: 15% of all home listings saw price cuts in January, according to realtor.com data.

That might sound like bad news if you’re thinking of selling. But hear us out: Those moderating prices, combined with today’s mortgage rates (more on that below), mean increased buyer demand for your house.

Plus, it’s not that home prices aren’t still increasing—they’re just not increasing at the frenzied pace of previous years, which often featured multiple offers at or above asking price, Hale says. So even though you might have some more competition as a seller, things are still looking pretty sweet for you when it comes to cold, hard cash.

“Even if you don’t get an offer above your asking price, you’re probably still going to come away with a handsome profit from being a seller in 2019,” Hale says.

But again, it’ll pay to put your home on the market as soon as you can—before conditions change.

“Sellers who list their homes earlier in the year tend to get a higher sales price, often above list, and shorter days on market,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.

  1. There’s high demand for homes under $300K

There’s more good news if you own a home below the national median price of $289,300. Not only is that inventory increasing at a slower rate than its luxury counterparts, but there are more buyers shopping at those price points.

“If you’re a below-median-price seller, you will see a seller’s market that is as good as what you saw in previous years—maybe even better,” Hale says. “You might still see multiple offers coming in quickly, maybe even above asking price.”

  1. Mortgage rates are at a new low

Something strange has been happening over the past few months. Experts predicted mortgage rates would rise—and at the end of 2018, they were indeed ticking upward as expected.

But since the start of the year, rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage (the most popular home loan) have been falling, sliding last week to a new 12-month low of 4.37%. And of course, those historically low mortgage rates mean you could have more buyers knocking on your door.

Plus, this temporary dip in rates creates an opportunity for trade-up buyers as well. After all, if you’re selling your home, there’s a good chance you’ll need to buy another one.

Bottom line: Now’s the time to hustle and get both transactions done.

“Sellers need to take advantage of low rates as much as buyers do,” Wolf says. “Sellers don’t want to get stuck in their homes when rates go up and the math no longer makes sense to move.”

  1. Millennials are flooding the market

Historically speaking, people tend to buy their first home around age 30. And guess what? We’ve got a whole bunch of people turning 30 in the next two years—nearly 5 million, in fact, according to realtor.com data. So you can count on those millennials to be a driving force in the housing market.

“Millennials want to own a home as much as prior generations,” Wolf says. “We saw millennial shoppers scooping up homes in 2018—and 2019 will be no different.”

What’s more, Hale adds, is that you won’t just be seeing demand from first-time buyers. Older millennials in their middle to late 30s have already owned a home for a few years, and could be looking at now as a prime time to trade up. “From a seller’s perspective, you’re going to have possibly more interested buyers,” Hale says. “So that’s motivation to put your house on the market.”

Courtesy Realtor.com https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/2019-reasons-to-sell-your-home

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7 Buyer Etiquette Rules

7 Unwritten Etiquette Rules Every Home Buyer Should Know

You like being under a microscope? Whatever your answer to that question may be, you’d better get used to being scrutinized when you’re trying to buy a home. Your behavior can sway sellers to bestow their precious home on you—or pass you up for someone nicer or way less annoying.

Naturally, realtor.com® is here to help! Just be sure to follow these heretofore unwritten rules of house-buying etiquette to stay in the good graces of all involved.

Get pre-approved for a home loan
Getting pre-approved and knowing exactly how much house you can afford before shopping for a home is key to winning over sellers, real estate agents agree.

“It is simply misleading to look at a home you don’t know you qualify for,” says Cara Ameer, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker. Yes, this is an etiquette issue. “Remember that the seller and agent(s) took time to prepare for the showing. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if someone was looking at your home and they had no idea if they qualified for a mortgage, let alone the price range of your home?”

If you haven’t yet been pre-approved, let the agent and seller know upfront.

Be punctual
You’re mom used to tell you this one, right? If you have an appointment with your Realtor, respect his or her time. If you’re running late, call, but don’t make a habit of last-minute schedule changes. Agents have plenty of other clients they could be working with. Also, if they’ve asked a seller to leave the house for your showing, your tardiness makes both you and your agent look bad. Enough said.

Remove your shoes
Whatever “shoe rules” you have in your home are null and void elsewhere—so when in doubt, ask if you should remove your shoes upon entering anyone’s home.

“You may be asked to remove your shoes or even wear surgical booties,” says Brenda Hayward, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. Don’t be self-conscious! “Just give it up; no one looks good in surgical booties.”

Don’t bring an entourage
“This may be OK in Hollywood, but try to minimize the group field trip effect,” says Ameer. “You may want to save that for once you’ve narrowed down your choices to your top two to three properties. Sometimes, too many opinions can be confusing and overwhelming, and add unnecessary time to the property tour.”

Ditto when it comes to little ones. “Ideally, you don’t bring your children with you when going to view a house,” says Nicholas Kensington of Scottsdale Real Estate. “If that isn’t possible, though, don’t let them wander anywhere they want. There are always potential safety issues. And it’s just rude.”

Ask permission before taking photos
Want to take a few pictures or shoot some video to help you remember all those small details? Ask first, Kensington advises. “There might be concerns about privacy that you’re not aware of.”

Don’t linger too long
Just how long is long enough to truly take in a home? While there’s no formal rule, Ameer says anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes is typical for a first showing.

“Taking a bit longer may be OK, but remember: You can always go back for a second showing and will likely need to.” But beyond two visits, when exactly are you at risk of being considered a stalker? See our next point…

Avoid excessive multiple visits
“One, two, or even three visits is typically acceptable prior to making an offer,” Ameer says. “If you must return more than that, make sure this is a home you are seriously considering.”

All those visits are not only an inconvenience, but they could also make a seller extremely anxious, especially if a buyer comes to the house five times and is never heard from again. Remember, you will have inspections and access to the home again, so don’t waste a seller’s time with too many visits.

Before you come away thinking you’re the only person in the home-buying process who should adhere to a code of conduct, tune in next week to learn all the unwritten etiquette rules home sellers should follow, too!

Article published in Realtor.com

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Housing Slowdown? Softening?

Whatever You Call It, It’s Real and It’s Here

By Clare Trapasso | Realtor.com

Ever since the whiplash-inducing, bust-and-boom cycle of the U.S. housing market kicked into high gear with last decade’s devastating crash and this decade’s ever-escalating home prices, bidding wars, and inventory shortages, one question has been top of mind for buyers and sellers alike: Is this “party” ending anytime soon? Lately, those who read economic tea leaves have been hinting that we may be heading toward a significant correction in the go-go-go American housing market. Surely national home price increases have to slow down eventually, right?

It turns out they may be on to something.

“The signs are pointing to a market that’s shifting toward buyers,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist of realtor.com®. “But in most places, we’re still a long way from a full reversal.”

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ake no mistake: Prices are not exactly tumbling down—at least, not on the national level. And there’s no evidence on the horizon of a looming housing bubble about to pop and drag the world economy down with it. Median home list prices are still up 7% year over year this August, according to an analysis of realtor.com data.

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But hold on—those numbers are a drop-off from the past couple of years. In 2015 things were really rolling: Prices were soaring, multiple offers were the norm in many markets, and the number of homes available was falling fast. Last year, home list prices jumped 10% over the year before. The year before that, it was 9%. So while a 7% rise still sounds like a lot—especially compared with annual inflation of just 2.9%—it’s actually a very real sign that the market may finally be coming back down to earth.

And the national figures tell only part of the story. A deep dive into regional housing metrics by the realtor.com data team indicates that some of the nation’s highest-profile, bellwether housing markets are starting to slow.

Housing slowdown?  |  Tony Frenzel

 

So what does it all mean? Sellers shooting for the stars may not be able to get quite as much as they’d like. And, in a boon to buyers, the number of homes on the market is finally starting to rise. In August, 18 of the 45 largest housing markets, including such heavyweights as San FranciscoNew York CityLos AngelesBoston, and Dallas, saw more properties go up for sale than the previous year. That means folks not only have a better shot at closing on the home of their dreams, but they’ll also face less competition. And that controls runaway price inflation.

“We’ve hit that tipping point in a lot of these cities where what sellers think they can get is just not possible for many buyers,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at real estate information provider ATTOM Data Solutions. “Now the pendulum is swinging away from sellers and back toward buyers.”

Now housing experts are divided on how much prices will keep going up or whether they’ll even—gasp—go flat.  So what does the future hold?

Why is the real estate market beginning to slow?

One of the main reasons the housing market is beginning to turn is rising mortgage interest rates.

Do the math: The more expensive it becomes to secure a loan, the less money buyers have left to spend on a property. Rates were up 0.82% year over year to reach 4.65% on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages as of Sept. 20, according to Freddie Mac. And each percentage point uptick adds about $143 to the monthly payments—and nearly $51,500 over the life of a loan—on a median-priced home of $300,000. (That’s assuming a 20% down payment.)

That’s no small chunk of change—and, as Blomquist points out, even a small increase can be enough to push enough buyers out of the game.

President Donald Trump‘s tax plan could also be limiting just how high prices can go, particularly in the priciest parts of the country. That’s because buyers can now deduct the mortgage interest they pay on loans up to only $750,000. Previously, they could deduct it for loans up to $1 million.

And while this sounds like a problem reserved for the 1-percenters, in some expensive markets, even starter homes go for around $1 million. Combine that with a $10,000 cap on a combination of property and either sales or income taxes, and it spells trouble for homeowners and buyers in California, New York, and New Jersey. Those states tend to have high property taxes that folks can no longer get a federal break on.

Homeowners certainly aren’t oblivious to these factors—many of them are rushing to put their homes on the market to get as much as they can before prices begin to come down, say housing experts and real estate agents. The resulting higher inventory gives buyers a bit more power.

Could California be slowing its roll?

California price reductions  |  Tony Frenzel

The one state in the country where the cost of housing is hurtling ever more out of reach for the 99-percenters has been California, particularly its coastal cities. The Golden State’s median home price is $542,500—well above the national median of nearly $295,000.

But now, after years as one of America’s hottest housing markets, California is showing some chinks in its armor. Many overzealous sellers who listed their homes at unrealistically high prices are now being forced to reduce them. The state experienced the nation’s biggest increase in the number of homes seeing list price reductions. But just because some sellers overshot doesn’t mean that the state’s housing is suddenly going through a clearance sale. Overall, median home prices were up 5%, and inventory increased 14% year over year.

“We are bumping up against peak prices,” says Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst for the San Francisco Bay Area at the real estate company Compass. “Whether it will just be a slowdown or a plateau or a small adjustment in home values, and how big that adjustment is, that I don’t know.”

Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, saw the biggest jump in the number of homes on realtor.com seeing price reductions. There, the number of homes where prices were lowered zoomed up 171% in August, even as the number of listings surged 77%. The likely culprit: rampant overpricing. It turns out home costs can’t go up forever, even in the shadow of Google and Apple headquarters.

Santa Clara–based real estate broker Rick Smith is seeing the most price reductions for higher-end properties in the $3 million-and-up range. But prices on homes located farther away from the bigger companies are also falling as folks are looking for shorter commutes to work. And buyers are more hesitant to take the plunge.

“People are concerned if we hit peak and I buy now, what happens?” says Smith, of Windermere Real Estate. So they’re waiting to see what happens.

Can Seattle’s double-digit price growth go on forever?

Now don’t get too excited: Median prices in Seattle, the birthplace of tech behemoth Amazon, aren’t coming down. (They’re about $552,600 for the metro area and $692,875 within the city limits.)

Prices are still sky high in Seattle  |  Mike Kane

But that doesn’t mean sellers these days can slap whatever price tag they want on their residences—and add some extra zeros. Many may have gotten overzealous in what they wanted to fetch—the number of listings on realtor.com with price reductions was up a whopping 76% in August year over year. That’s the second-biggest jump among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country. And it may be a blinking red light signaling that the market may be about to cool.

“A lot of people think that the market is peaking and are looking to potentially cash out” while they can still fetch the most money, says Windermere Real Estate’s chief economist, Matthew Gardner. “We’ve been on double-digit price growth for years, and that is clearly unsustainable.”

Overall prices are still soaring—at least for now. They rose 14% year over year, to reach $552,550 in August. They were up 13% the year before that and 7% in the one prior.

But prices are expected to increase more slowly in the near future, as there are more homes going up for sale, giving buyers a bit more choice—and negotiating power. Andres Carbacho-Burgos, a senior economist focused on housing at Moody’s Analytics, predicts that home price growth will slow to just 2% to 3% annually over the next few years.

The boomtowns: Austin, TX, and Nashville, TN

Austin boom  | Tony Frenzel

 

Then there are the smaller cities, like Austin, TX, and Nashville, TN, that burst onto the national scene just a few years ago—poster children for the supercharged housing recovery. Home prices rose to meteoric heights as builders raced to put up new abodes and transplants from even higher-priced metros flooded the cities. At the same time, their populations shot up 18.5% and 10.6% respectively from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2017, according to U.S. Census data.

And then, despite all the hype, list prices did the unthinkable—they began to fall. Austin is a particular eye-opener: List prices dipped about 3%, to a median of $362,000 in August compared with the previous year, according to our realtor.com analysis. The year before that they dipped 2%. And while median sales prices (what these abodes actually fetched) actually rose 4.2% for the year, according to CoreLogic, it’s the slowest rate of growth since 2010.

“Home prices have just gone up too fast,” ATTOM’s Blomquist says of Austin. “It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden it’s a market that’s going to crash. But it does mean there are limits to what people can afford.”

Luxury homes in Austin | realtor.com

 

Four years ago, real estate agent Jason Bernknopf was seeing move-in ready homes in desirable central Austin fetch six to 10 offers. Two years ago, similar homes were getting two to six offers. Lately, multiple offers are more rare.

“Now things don’t go in the first day necessarily. You have to wait three to four days,” says Bernknopf, of AustinRealEstate.com. “Sellers are having to reduce some of their prices.”

Carbacho-Burgos, of Moody’s Analytics, expects prices to fall about 3% in Austin over the next few years, and level off in Nashville in the coming year or two.

A similar pattern is emerging in Nashville: The median list price on realtor.com in the country music hot spot was about $356,000 in August, representing a 1% dip from the previous year. But the median sale price climbed 7.9% year over year, to $286,000 in June, according to the latest CoreLogic data—a slower price increase than the 11.3% rise of the previous year.

Nashville real estate broker Brian Copeland, of Doorbell Real Estate, attributes the change to the finite number of buyers.

“There was a blitz of buyers in the marketplace, and now they’ve found their homes,” he says.

But he balks at labeling the city a seller’s or a buyer’s market. Instead, it’s moving toward “an equilibrium market,” where buyers aren’t whipped into a frenzy bidding on homes that went on the market hours ago and sellers can still get nearly all of their asking prices.

Nashville affiliate broker Lisa Peebles-Chagnon, of Nashville Luxury Estates, is beginning to see some pushback from buyers. Sellers, particularly those in the $500,000-and-up range, are waking up to the fact that, if they want to fetch top dollar, they need to clean and stage their abodes. In addition, they’ll need to have it pre-inspected, with any maintenance problems corrected.

A three-bedroom home in Nashville listed at $775K.  | realtor.com

 

Freakout alert: Is another housing bubble about to pop?

It’s time to address the T. rex in the room: Could lower price appreciation, an increase in inventory, and more price cuts on individual homes spell imminent disaster for the U.S. real estate market? Could we actually be primed for another housing bubble?

Most housing experts aren’t worried. That’s because the reasons behind the crazy-high home prices are different now than they were when the market crashed in 2008. And there are more checks in place to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.

For starters, it’s become much harder to get a mortgage since the housing bust a decade ago. Ask anyone who’s experienced it. Folks can’t come in off the street claiming they’re making big bucks and score a lucrative mortgage anymore—without documentation or good credit scores. Those who do get a mortgage are often more thoroughly vetted and are therefore less likely to default and go into foreclosure.

And despite more “For Sale” signs going up, there is still a very real housing shortage at a time when there is strong demand for homes. So it’s not as if a ton of folks are purchasing scores of homes that they can’t afford, as there simply aren’t a ton of available properties on the market. And builders aren’t putting up enough abodes to alleviate that problem due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of available land, construction labor, and regulatory burdens.

“It’s hard to see this as the bubble popping in any way close to what we saw 10 years ago,” says ATTOM’s Blomquist. “I see it more as a deflating, letting some air out of the balloon … [so there isn’t] a bigger pop down the road.”

Data Analysis by Lance Lambert.

Courtesy of NAR:   https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/housing-market-finally-becoming-buyers-market/

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Home Buyer Loan Prep!

The Ten Commandments of Buying a Home

  • Thou shalt not change jobs, become self-employed or quit your job.
  • Thou shalt not buy a car, truck or van (or you may be living in it!).
  • Thou shalt not use credit cards excessively or let current accounts fall behind.
  • Thou shalt not spend money you have set aside for closing.
  • Thou shalt not omit debts or liabilities from your loan application.
  • Thou shalt not buy furniture on credit.
  • Thou shalt not originate any inquiries into your credit.
  • Thou shalt not make large deposits without checking with your loan officer.
  • Thou shalt not change bank accounts.
  • Thou shalt not co-sign a loan for anyone.
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Save Thousands on Your Mortgage

How To Save Thousands Of Dollars In Interest On Your Mortgage

One of the most common loans you can get to buy a home is a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. If the thought of paying for your home over the course of 30-years seems daunting, here are some easy ways to shorten that term which will actually end up saving you money over the life of your loan.

Any additional payments to the principal amount (the original sum of money borrowed in a loan), helps to cut down the amount of interest that you will pay over the life of your loan and can also help to shave years off the loan as well.

When you make ‘extra’ payments toward your loan, the key is to let your lender/bank know that you want the extra funds to go toward your principal balance as they will not automatically do this for you.

You don’t have to double your mortgage payment to make a big difference either!

If you have a 30-year mortgage on a median-priced home ($250,000) with a 5% interest rate, you’ll be responsible for a $1,342.05 monthly principal and interest payment. Over the course of the loan, if you pay your exact monthly payment, you will have paid $233,133.89 in interest alone!

Paying a Little Extra Can Pay Off Big

1. Pay an additional 1/12th of your mortgage payment every month

Benefit: In the example above, adding $111.84 to your monthly mortgage payment might not seem like a lot, but each year you will have paid one extra month’s worth of payments which will shorten the term of your loan by 4 years and 8 months, all while saving you $42,000 in interest!

2. Pay an additional $50 per month towards your mortgage

Benefit: Fifty dollars might not seem like enough to make a difference on the term of your loan, but that small amount will save you over $21,000 in interest and will take over 2 years off the end of your loan. Twenty-eight years from now, you’ll be happy to pay off your loan that much sooner!

3. Make one-time lump sum payments when you can

Benefit: If you find yourself with a little extra money after a yearly bonus, a tax return, or from investment dividends, paying that money towards the principal can cut your costs. This option, however, is less predictable than the extra monthly payments.

If you have higher interest debts, like credit cards, consider using any extra funds you have to pay those debts down before applying that money towards your mortgage. Also, if you do not plan on staying in your home for more than 10 years, paying extra toward your mortgage might not make sense.

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering what strategies would work best for you to shorten the term of your loan, consult a local real estate professional who can answer your questions or connect you with someone who can.

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Homeowners 65+ Have 48X Net Worth of Renters

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. Their latest survey data covers responses from 2013-2016.

The study revealed that the median net worth of a homeowner was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).

These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.

There are many who see that statistic and point toward how broad the range of respondents are for the Federal Reserve survey. Their study includes all economic and social groups and also includes all age groups. The argument is that older respondents have a higher likelihood of being homeowners, while the homeownership rate among younger survey takers is much lower.

Recently, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University focused on homeowners and renters over the age of 65. Their study revealed that the difference in net worth between homeowners and renters at this age group was actually 47.5 times greater!

Homeowners Aged 65+ Have 48x More Net Worth Than Renters | Keeping Current Matters

Homeowners over the age of 65 are much more financially prepared for retirement and often own their homes outright if they were fortunate enough to purchase their homes before the age of 36. Their 30 years of mortgage payments have paid off as they gained equity through their monthly payments and as home values appreciated.

It is no surprise that lifelong-renters have had a hard time accruing net worth as the latest Censusreport shows that the Median Asking Rent has been climbing consistently over the last 30 years.

Homeowners Aged 65+ Have 48x More Net Worth Than Renters | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

As a homeowner you put your monthly mortgage payment to work for you, building your net worth with every payment.

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5 Good Reasons To Sell This Fall

Here are five reasons why listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong
The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now! In fact, more often than not, multiple buyers end up competing with each other to buy the same homes.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now
Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon!

Historically, a homeowner stayed in his or her home for an average of six years, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. Many homeowners have a pent-up desire to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker
Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all that they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 44 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up
If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The abundance of inventory available in these higher price ranges has created a buyer’s market for anybody looking to purchase these homes. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.1% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life
Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you feel you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

courtesy Keeping Current Matters

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Appraisal & Home Owners Agree!

In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate  by another 5% (or more) over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.

When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the same neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth and what an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home is.

March 2015 marked the first month of a three-year gap between what an appraiser and a homeowner believed a home was worth. That gap widened to 2.65% in September 2015 and had consistently hovered between 1.0% and 2.0% through November 2017.

The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last three years:

Home Value and Appraisal

In the latest release, the disparity was the narrowest it has been since March 2015, as the gap between appraisers and homeowners was only -0.33%. This is important for homeowners to note as even a .33% difference in appraisal could equate to thousands of dollars that a buyer or seller has to come up with at closing (depending on the price of the home).

Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges homeowners to find out how their local markets have been impacted by supply and demand: 

“The appraisal is one of the most important, although sometimes least predictable, parts of the mortgage process. The Home Price Perception Index is a way to illustrate the differences of opinion, and these differences affect everything from the type of mortgage a borrower can get to the expectations a seller has about the proceeds available upon sale of their home.”

Bottom Line

Every house on the market must be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then again to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale may be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, meet with an experienced professional who can guide you through this and any other obstacles that may arise.

As reported by Keeping Current Matters, 6/9/18

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