Urban Institute recently released a report entitled, “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership,” which revealed that “eighty percent of consumers either are unaware of how much lenders require for a down payment or believe all lenders require a down payment above 5 percent.”
Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”
Buyers often overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the same report:
“Consumers are often unaware of the option to take out low-down-payment mortgages. Only 19% of consumers believe lenders would make loans with a down payment of 5% or less… While 15% believe lenders require a 20% down payment, and 30% believe lenders expect a 20% down payment.”
These numbers do not differ much between non-owners and homeowners; 39% of non-owners believe they need more than 20% for a down payment and 30% of homeowners believe they need more than 20% for a down payment.
While many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, they do not realize that programs are available that allow them to put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.
Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”
Similar to the down payment, many either don’t know or are misinformed about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.
Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.
To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.
As you can see in the chart above, 53.5% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.
Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.
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.
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 well.
There are many unsubstantiated theories as to why home values are continuing to increase. From those who are worried that lending standards are again becoming too lenient (data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion.
However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase.
It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything more than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart 1).
According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the monthly inventory of homes has been below six months for the last four years (see chart 2).
If buyer demand outpaces the current supply of existing homes for sale, prices will continue to appreciate. Nothing nefarious is taking place. It is simply the theory of supply & demand working as it should.
Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.
Zillow recently reported that:
“In reality, buying or renting a home is an intensely personal decision, with emotional and even financial considerations that go beyond whether to invest in this one (admittedly large) asset. Looking strictly at housing market numbers, there is a concrete point at which buying a home makes more financial sense than renting it.”
What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?
1. We recently highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:
- Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
- Homeownership provides tax savings.
- Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
- Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
- No other investment lets you live inside of it.
2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.
3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2017 could build more than $48,000 in family wealth over the next five years.
4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment– along with a profit margin!!
Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.
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.
It is getting easier to gain financing for a home purchase. However, we are not seeing the irresponsible lending that caused the housing crisis.
The current narrative is that home prices have risen so much so that it is no longer a smart idea to purchase a home. Your family and friends might suggest that buying a home right now (whether a first-time home or a move-up home) makes absolutely no sense from an affordability standpoint. They are wrong!
Homes are more affordable right now than at almost any time in our country’s history except for the foreclosure years (2009-2015) when homes sold at major discounts. As an example, below is a graph from the latest Black Knight Mortgage Monitor showing the percentage of median income needed to buy a medium-priced home in the country today in comparison to prior to the housing bubble and bust.
As we can see, the percentage necessary is less now than in those time periods.
The Mortgage Monitor also explains that home affordability is better today than it was in the late 1990s in 47 of 50 states.
Your friends and family have your best interests at heart. However, when it comes to buying your first home or selling your current house to buy the home of your dreams, let’s get together to discuss what your best move is, now.
Many potential homebuyers believe that they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home, which stops many of them from even trying! Here are some facts:
- 40% of millennials who purchased homes this year have put down less than 10%.
- 76.4% of loan applications were approved last month.
- The average credit score of approved loans was 724 in September.
A report released by Down Payment Resource shows that 61% of first-time homebuyers purchased their homes with a down payment of 6% or less.
The trend continued among all buyers with a mortgage, as 73% made a down payment of less than 20%.
An article by Chase points to a new wave of millennial homebuyers:
“We teamed up with Google to help us better understand what customers are searching for and how the home buying landscape is evolving. We found that millennials and first-time homebuyers are making a big splash in the market, and affordability remains top of mind.”
Among millennials who purchased homes, David Norris, Loan Depot’s Head of Retail Lending, said:
“It’s clear from the survey results that Millennials have a lot of anxiety built up about the home buying process.
There is good news, however, as there’s more flexibility than most Millennials think regarding how to qualify for a loan and what’s needed for a down payment.”
If you are one of the many millennials who is debating a home purchase this year, let’s get together to help you understand your options and set you on the path to preapproval.