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Planning on Buying a Home? Be Sure You Know Your Options.

Posted by on Dec 4, 2019 in Buying a Home | 0 comments

When you’re ready to buy, you’ll need to determine if you prefer the charm of an existing home or the look and feel of a newer build. With limited existing home inventory available today, especially in the starter and middle-level markets, many buyers are considering a new home that’s recently been constructed, or they’re building the home of their dreams. According to Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “The second half of 2019 has seen steady gains in single-family construction, and this is mirrored by the gradual uptick in builder sentiment over the past few months.” This is great news for homebuyers because it means there is additional inventory coming to the market, giving buyers more choices. The most recent data from NAHB shows, “The inventory of new homes for sale was 321,000 in September, representing a 5.5 months’ supply. The median sales price was $299,400. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $328,300.” Another added bonus is that builders are very aware of buyer demand in this segment, so they’re now building in a price range where there are more interested buyers ($299,400 instead of $328,300). With a reduced sales price and low-interest rates, today’s buyers have strong purchasing power. Bottom Line If you’re thinking of buying a home, you may want to consider a new build to meet your family’s needs. Let’s get together to discuss the process and review what’s available in our...

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How to Determine If You Can Afford to Buy a Home

Posted by on Nov 27, 2019 in Buying a Home, Mortgage & Finances | 0 comments

The gap between the increase in personal income and residential real estate prices has been used to defend the concept that we are experiencing an affordability crisis in housing today. It is true that home prices and wages are two key elements in any affordability equation. There is, however, an extremely important third component to that equation: mortgage interest rates. Mortgage interest rates have fallen by more than a full percentage point from this time last year. Today’s rate is 3.75%; it was 4.86% at this time last year. This has dramatically increased a purchaser’s ability to afford a home. Here are three reports validating that purchasing a home is in fact more affordable today than it was a year ago: CoreLogic’s Typical Mortgage Payment “Falling mortgage rates and slower home-price growth mean that many buyers this year are committing to lower mortgage payments than they would have faced for the same home last year. After rising at a double-digit annual pace in 2018, the principal-and-interest payment on the nation’s median-priced home – what we call the “typical mortgage payment”– fell year-over-year again.”   The National Association of Realtors’ Affordability Index “At the national level, housing affordability is up from last month and up from a year ago…All four regions saw an increase in affordability from a year ago…Payment as a percentage of income was down from a year ago.” First American’s Real House Price Index (RHPI) “In 2019, the dynamic duo of lower mortgage rates and rising incomes overcame the negative impact of rising house price appreciation on affordability. Indeed, affordability reached its highest point since January 2018. Focusing on nominal house price changes alone as an indication of changing affordability, or even the relationship between nominal house price growth and income growth, overlooks what matters more to potential buyers – surging house-buying power driven by the dynamic duo of mortgage rates and income growth. And, we all know from experience, you buy what you can afford to pay per month.” Bottom Line Though the price of homes may still be rising, the cost of purchasing a home is actually falling. If you’re thinking of buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, let’s connect so you can better understand the difference between the...

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Think Prices Have Skyrocketed? Look at Rents.

Posted by on Nov 20, 2019 in Real Estate Market | 0 comments

Much has been written about how residential real estate values have increased since the housing market started its recovery in 2012. However, little has been shared about what has taken place with residential rental prices. Let’s shed a little light on this subject. In the most recent Apartment Rent Report, RentCafe explains how rents have continued to increase over the last twelve months because of a large demand and a limited supply.  “Continued interest in rental apartments and slowing construction keeps the national average rent on a strong upward trend.” Zillow, in its latest Rent Index, agreed that rents are continuing on an “upward trend” across most of the country, and that the trend is accelerating: “The median U.S. rent grew 2% year-over-year, to $1,595 per month. National rent growth is faster than a year ago, and while 46 of the 50 largest markets are showing deceleration in annual home value growth, annual rent growth is accelerating in 41 of the largest 50 markets.” The Zillow report went on to detail rent increases since the beginning of the housing market recovery in 2012. Here is a graph showing the increases: Bottom Line It is true that home prices have risen over the past seven years, increasing the cost of owning a home. However, the cost of renting a home has also increased over that same time...

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Depending on the Price, You’re Going to Need Advice

Posted by on Nov 15, 2019 in Buying a Home, Real Estate Market | 0 comments

To understand today’s complex real estate market, it is critical to have a local, trusted advisor on your side – for more reasons than you may think. In real estate today, there are essentially three different price points in the market: the starter-home market, the middle-home market, and the premium or luxury market. Each one is unique, and depending on the city, the price point in these categories will vary. For example, a starter or lower-end home in San Francisco, California is much more expensive than almost any other part of the country. Let’s explore what you need to know about each of these tiers. Starter-Home Market: This market varies by price, and these homes are typically purchased by first-time home buyers or investors looking to flip them for a profit. Across the country, homes in this space currently have less than 6 months of inventory for sale. That means there aren’t enough homes on the lower end of the market for the number of people who want to buy them. A low supply like this generally increases competition, drives bidding wars, and sets up an environment where homes sell above the listing price. According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) on realtor.com, “The desire for affordability continues to push down the inventory for homes listed for less than $200,000.00.” Middle-Home Market: This segment is often thought of as the move-up market. Typically, the buyer in this market is moving up to a larger, more custom home with more features, all coming at a higher price. Across the country, this market is looking more balanced than the lower end of the market, meaning it has closer to a 6-month supply of inventory for sale. This market is more neutral, but leaning towards a seller’s market. Premium & Luxury Home Market: This is the top end of the market with larger homes that have even more custom features and upgrades. Nationwide, this market is growing in the number of homes for sale. In the same realtor.com article, we can see that year-over-year inventory of homes in this tier has grown by 4.7%. Today, there are more homes available in the premium and luxury space, leading to more of a buyer’s market at this end. Bottom Line Depending on the segment of the market and the price point you’re looking at, you’re going to need the advice of a true local market expert. Let’s get together to help you navigate the home-buying or selling process in your...

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5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

Posted by on Nov 13, 2019 in Buying a Home | 0 comments

In today’s market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared. Here are five tips from realtor.com’s article, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind.” 1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search One way to show you’re serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. Even if you’re in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach. This will help you avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a home well outside your price range. 2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’ Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like. Qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help you stay focused on what’s most important. 3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood Where You Want to Live Every neighborhood has unique charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, take a test-drive of the area. Make sure it meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.” 4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that will best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code doesn’t mean you need to tour every listing in that vicinity. An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.” 5. Document Your Home Visits Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and making notes on the listing sheet to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit. Bottom Line In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream...

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3 Reasons This is NOT the 2008 Real Estate Market

Posted by on Nov 11, 2019 in Real Estate Market | 0 comments

No one knows for sure when the next recession will occur. What is known, however, is that the upcoming economic slowdown will not be caused by a housing market crash, as was the case in 2008. There are those who disagree and are comparing today’s real estate market to the market in 2005-2006, which preceded the crash. In many ways, however, the market is very different now. Here are three suppositions being put forward by some, and why they don’t hold up. SUPPOSITION #1 A critical warning sign last time was the surging gap between the growth in home prices and household income. Today, home values have also outpaced wage gains. As in 2006, a lack of affordability will kill the market. Counterpoint The “gap” between wages and home price growth has existed since 2012. If that is a sign of a recession, why didn’t we have one sometime in the last seven years? Also, a buyer’s purchasing power is MUCH GREATER today than it was thirteen years ago. The equation to determine affordability has three elements:  home prices, wages, AND MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES. Today, the mortgage rate is about 3.5% versus 6.41% in 2006. SUPPOSITION #2 In 2018, as in 2005, housing-price growth began slowing, with significant price drops occurring in some major markets. Look at Manhattan where home prices are in a “near free-fall.” Counterpoint The only major market showing true depreciation is Seattle, and it looks like home values in that city are about to reverse and start appreciating again. CoreLogic is projecting home price appreciation to reaccelerate across the country over the next twelve months. Regarding Manhattan, home prices are dropping because the city’s new “mansion tax” is sapping demand. Additionally, the new federal tax code that went into effect last year continues to impact the market, capping deductions for state and local taxes, known as SALT, at $10,000. That had the effect of making it more expensive to own homes in states like New York. SUPPOSITION #3 Prices will crash because that is what happened during the last recession. Counterpoint It is true that home values sank by almost 20% during the 2008 recession. However, it is also true that in the four previous recessions, home values depreciated only once (by less than 2%). In the other three, residential real estate values increased by 3.5%, 6.1%, and 6.6%. Price is determined by supply and demand. In 2008, there was an overabundance of housing inventory (a 9-month supply). Today, housing inventory is less than half of that (a 4-month supply). Bottom Line We need to realize that today’s real estate market is nothing like the 2008 market. Therefore, when a recession occurs, it won’t resemble the last...

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3 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Pro in a Complex Digital World

Posted by on Nov 8, 2019 in Real Estate Market | 0 comments

If you’re searching for a home online, you’re not alone; lots of people are doing it. The question is, are you using all of your available resources, and are you using them wisely? Here’s why the Internet is a great place to start the home-buying process, and the truth on why it should never be your only go-to resource when it comes to making such an important decision. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the three most popular information sources home buyers use in the home search are: Online website (93%) Real estate agent (86%) Mobile/tablet website or app (73%) Clearly, you’re not alone if you’re starting your search online; 93% of home buyers are right there with you. The even better news: 86% of buyers are also getting their information from a real estate agent at the same time. Here are 3 top reasons why using a real estate professional in addition to a digital search is key: 1. There’s More to Real Estate Than Finding a Home Online. It’s a lonely and complicated trek around the web if you don’t have a real estate professional to also help you through the 230 possible steps you’ll face as you navigate through a real estate transaction. That’s a pretty staggering number! Determining your price, submitting an offer, and successful negotiation are just a few of these key steps in the sequence. You’ll definitely want someone who has been there before to help you through it. 2. You Need a Skilled Negotiator. In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars. From the original offer to the appraisal and the inspection, many of the intricate steps can get complicated and confusing. You need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes. 3. It Is Crucial to Make a Competitive and Compelling Offer. There is so much information out there in the news and on the Internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates. How do you know what’s specifically going on in your area? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a lowball offer? Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises: “When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.” Hiring a real estate professional who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying experience an informed and educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear. Bottom Line If you’re ready to start your search online, let’s get together. You’ll want someone who is educated and informed at your side who can answer your questions and guide you through a process that can be complex and confusing if you go at it with the Internet...

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Be on the Lookout for Gen Z: The Next Generation of Homebuyers

Posted by on Nov 6, 2019 in Home Ownership | 0 comments

You’ve likely heard a ton about Millennials, but what about Gen Z? In the next 5 years, this generation will be between the ages of 23 and 28, and they’re eager to become homeowners faster than you may think. According to realtor.com, “Nearly 80 percent of Generation Z members say they want to own a home before age 30,” and Concentrix Analytics said, “52% of prospective Gen Z buyers are already saving to buy a home.” Wikipedia defines Generation Z (Gen Z) as “the demographic cohort after the Millennials. Demographers and researchers typically use the mid-1990s to mid-2000s as starting birth years.” The report from Concentrix goes a little deeper on Gen Z, identifying the main reasons this cohort wants to own homes: 55% want to own a home because they want to start a family 47% want to build wealth over time 33% want to make their family proud Although they’re eager to buy, this generation also perceives a few challenges ahead: 66% believe saving for a down payment and closing costs will be challenging 58% feel covering the monthly costs of owning may be difficult 52% perceive a lack of knowledge about where to start It is also interesting to note that 21% of Gen Zers think their parents will provide financial help, 17% will use a down payment assistance program, and 15% believe other family members will help them. One of the highlights of the report mentioned, “More than half of Gen Zers who think they’ll receive help also think they will need to pay their parents back, compared to 40 percent of millennials.” Bottom Line It is never too early to start saving for your own home, whether you are part of Gen Z or a different generation. If you would like to know where to start and how much you need to save to reach your goal of buying a home, let’s get together so you can better understand the...

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Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell

Posted by on Nov 4, 2019 in Selling a Home | 0 comments

The best time to sell anything is when demand for that item is high and the supply of that item is limited. The latest Existing-Home Sales Report released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reveals that demand for housing continues to be strong, but the supply is struggling to keep pace. With this trend likely continuing throughout 2020, now is a great time to sell your house. THE EXISTING-HOME SALES REPORT The most important data revealed in this report was not actually sales. In reality, it was the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained: Total housing inventory at the end of August decreased 2.6% to 1.86 million homes available for sale. Unsold inventory is lower than the 4.3-month figure recorded in August 2018. This represents a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace. According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, “Sales are up, but inventory numbers remain low and are thereby pushing up home prices.” In real estate, there is a simple guideline that often applies here. Essentially, when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see greater appreciation. Between a 6 to 7-month supply is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer’s market and can expect depreciation in home values (see below):As we mentioned before, there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes on the market, and houses are going under contract fast. The Existing Home Sales Report also shows that 49% of properties were on the market for less than a month when they were sold. In August, properties sold nationally were typically on the market for 31 days. As Yun notes, this should continue, “As expected, buyers are finding it hard to resist the current rates…The desire to take advantage of these promising conditions is leading more buyers to the market.”  Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market, and supply will fail to catch up with demand if a sizable supply does not enter the market. Bottom Line If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers who are out there searching for your house to become their dream...

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Homeownership is the Top Contributor to Your Net Worth

Posted by on Nov 1, 2019 in Home Ownership | 0 comments

Many people plan to build their net worth by buying CDs or stocks, or just having a savings account. Recently, however, Economist Jonathan Eggleston and Survey Statistician Donald Hays, both of the U.S. Census Bureau, shared the biggest determinants of wealth, “The biggest determinants of household wealth [are] owning a home and having a retirement account.” (Shown in the graph below): This does not come as a surprise, as we often mention that homeownership can help you to increase your family’s wealth. This study reinforces that idea,  “Net worth is an important indicator of economic well-being and provides insights into a household’s economic health.” Having equity in your home can help your family move in that direction, building toward substantial financial growth. According to the report noted above, people are not only creating net worth in the homes they live in, but many are also earning equity in rental property investments too. (See below):John Paulson said it well, “If you don’t own a home, buy one. If you own one home, buy another one, and if you own two homes buy a third and lend your relatives the money to buy a home.” Bottom Line There are financial and non-financial benefits to owning a home. If you would like to increase your net worth, let’s get together so you can learn all the benefits of becoming a...

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