J. Kent Erickson, Broker Associate
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Rents Are on the Rise: Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap!

Posted by on Jan 12, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Rents Are on the Rise: Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap! There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top benefits is protecting yourself from rising rents, by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage. Don’t Become Trapped  A recent article by Apartment List addressed rising rents by stating: “Rents are up 2.7% year-over-year at the national level. Year-over-year growth continues to fall between the 2.1% rate from this time last year and the 3.4% growth rate from October 2015.” The article continues explaining that: “Despite the seasonal slowdown, rents are still up year-over-year in 89 of the 100 Largest cities. Additionally, the Urban Institute revealed that, “Over a quarter of renters, or 11.1 million households, are severely cost burdened, spending at least half their income on rental housing. These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, including groceries and healthcare. It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent  As we have previously mentioned, the results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Reportfrom Trulia shows that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States. The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 6.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 57% less expensive in Detroit (MI) and 37.4% nationwide! Know Your Options Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. A nationwide survey of about 24,000 renters found that 80% of millennial renters plan to eventually buy a house, but 72% cite affordability as their primary obstacle. Aside from affordability, one in three millennial renters have concerns about their credit scores, and another 53% said that a down payment is an obstacle. Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream homes. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough! Bottom Line Don’t get caught in the trap that so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Let’s get together to determine if you can qualify for a mortgage...

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Should Boomers Buy or Rent After Selling?

Posted by on Jan 8, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Should Boomers Buy or Rent after Selling? In a recent CNBC article, it was reported that many baby boomers are selling their current homes and moving into rentals, rather than purchasing another home. “Between 2009 and 2015, the number of renters aged 55 or above rose 28 percent, while those aged 34 or younger only increased 3 percent… Meanwhile, more than 5 million baby boomers across the nation are expected to rent their next home by 2020, according to a 2016 analysis from Freddie Mac.” This makes sense in the short term for many reasons. If you are moving to a different part of town or a new region of the country, you may decide to rent until you pick the perfect home in an area you love. However, is renting a good long-term strategy? A mortgage payment remains fixed. Rents, however… The Census Bureau recently released their 2017 third quarter median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today: As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with making the decision of whether you should rent or buy your next home, you should take this into consideration. Bottom Line One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home instead of renting. Let’s get together so we can help you decide what the best step is for you and your...

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Before You Make An Offer, Here are 4 Tips for Success!

Posted by on Jan 5, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success! So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true! Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their Executive Perspective.Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration: 1. Understand How Much You Can Afford “While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.” This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process. Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace). 2. Act Fast “Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”  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 soon as possible. 3. Make a Solid Offer Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be: “Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.” Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways that you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market! 4. Be Prepared to Negotiate “It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford. Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.” 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 inspectoruncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller, or cancel the contract. Bottom Line  Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional who is an expert in their market on your side...

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Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step

Posted by on Jan 3, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly 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, knowing 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 with 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 home, that you would like to purchase Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted. Bottom Line Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as...

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3 Tips for Making Your Dream Home a Reality

Posted by on Jan 1, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

3 Tips for Making Your Dream Home a Reality [INFOGRAPHIC] Some Highlights: Realtor.com shared their “5 Habits to Start Now If You Hope to Buy a Home.” Setting up an automatic savings plan that saves a small amount of every check is one of the best ways to save without thinking a lot about it. Living within a budget will not only help you save money for down payments but will help you pay down other debts that might be holding you...

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The #1 Reason to List Your House Today!

Posted by on Dec 31, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The #1 Reason to List Your House Today! Many people believe that selling their house during “the spring buyers’ market” is the best thing to do. Their reasoning is that there will be more buyers than there are during the winter months and, therefore, their house will sell quicker and for a higher price. Historically, this made sense. However, today’s real estate market is not following the rules of the past. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) measures buyer “foot traffic” each month. It receives data on the number of properties shown to a prospective purchaser by a Realtor® (based on the number of lockboxes used). The data reveals the number of buyers out actively looking for a home, not just window shopping on the internet. NAR explains: “Foot traffic has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future.” According to the latest Foot Traffic Report, buyer traffic is greater now than it was during this year’s spring market and there are more buyers out now than at any other time in the last five years (March of 2012). The chart below shows that buyer activity over the last three months (blue bars) was greater than it was during this past spring market (green bars). Bottom Line If you are waiting for next spring to list your home because you think that’s when the buyers will be out in force, perhaps you should reconsider. Buyers are out right...

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Home Prices Up 7% from Last Year

Posted by on Dec 30, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Home Prices Up 7% from Last Year According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, national home prices have appreciated by 7.0% from October 2016 to October 2017. This marks the second month in a row with a 7.0% year-over-year increase. A lack of supply of homes for sale has led to upward pressure on home prices across the country, especially in areas where both existing and new home inventory have not kept up with buyer demand. CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft elaborated on the significance of such a large year-over-year gain,  “Single-family residential sales and prices continued to heat up in October. On a year-over-year basis, home prices grew in excess of 6 percent for four consecutive months ending in October, the longest such streak since June 2014. This escalation in home prices reflects both the acute lack of supply and the strengthening economy.” This is great news for homeowners who have gained over $13,000 in equityin their home over the last year! Those homeowners who had been on the fence as to whether or not to sell will be pleasantly surprised to find out that they now have an even larger profit to help cover a down payment on their dream home. CoreLogic’s President & CEO Frank Martell had this to say, “The acceleration in home prices is good news for both homeowners and the economy because it leads to higher home equity balances that support consumer spending and is a cushion against mortgage risk. However, for entry-level renters and first-time homebuyers, it leads to tougher affordability challenges.” Any time the price of a home goes up there will likely be concern about the affordability of that home, but there is good news. Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, allowing buyers to enter the housing market and lock in a low monthly housing cost. Rents Are Also Rising The report went on to mention that over the same 12-month period, median rental prices for a single-family home have also risen by 4.2%. With rents and home prices rising at the same time, first-time buyers may find the task of saving for a down payment a little daunting. Low down payment programs are available and have been a very popular option for first-time buyers. The median down payment for first-time buyers in 2017 was only 5%!  Bottom Line If you are looking to enter the housing market, as either a buyer or a seller, let’s get together to go over exactly what’s going on in our neighborhood and discuss your...

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Why Is There So Much Paperwork Required to Get a Mortgage?

Posted by on Dec 28, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why Is There So Much Paperwork Required to Get a Mortgage? Why is there so much paperwork mandated by the lenders for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today? It seems that they need to know everything about you and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form. Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago. There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history. 1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank proves beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of paying the mortgage. During the run-up to the housing crisis, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again. 2. The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business. Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application. However, there is some good news in the situation. The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allowed you to get a mortgage interest rate around 4%. The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty years ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process, but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990s and 6.29% in the 2000s). If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of around 4%, they would probably bend over backward to make the process much easier. Bottom Line Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low...

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5 Reasons to Sell This Winter!

Posted by on Dec 26, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

5 Reasons to Sell This Winter! Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this winter 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! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home. 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 that is 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, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six, but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners 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 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 time to close a loan has dropped to 44 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January. 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 inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. 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! Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.7% over the next year according to CoreLogic. 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 think 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...

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Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage?

Posted by on Dec 22, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? There is little doubt that it is easier to get a home mortgage today than it was last year. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), published by the Mortgage Bankers Association, shows that mortgage credit has become more available in each of the last several years. In fact, in just the last year: More buyers are putting less than 20% down to purchase a home The average credit score on closed mortgages is lower More low-down-payment programs have been introduced This has some people worrying that we are returning to the lax lending standards which led to the boom and bust that real estate experienced ten years ago. Let’s alleviate some of that concern. The graph below shows the MCAI going back to the boom years of 2004-2005. The higher the graph line, the easier it was to get a mortgage. As you can see, lending standards were much more lenient from 2004 to 2007. Though it has gradually become easier to get a mortgage since 2011, we are nowhere near the lenient standards during the boom. The Urban Institute also publishes a Home Credit Availability Index (HCAI). According to the Institute, the HCAI: “Measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates … it is easier to get a loan.” Here is a graph showing their findings: Again, today’s lending standards are nowhere near the levels of the boom years. As a matter of fact, they are more stringent than they were even before the boom. Bottom Line It is getting easier to gain financing for a home purchase. However, we are not seeing the irresponsible lending that caused the housing...

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