Black Friday is behind us and holiday gifts are flying off the shelves in stores and online. Unlike last year, however, there’s another type of buyer that is very active this winter – the homebuyer.
Each month, ShowingTime releases their Showing Index, which tracks the average number of appointments received on active U.S. house listings. The latest index revealed:
“Traffic was more active once again compared to 2018, as the nation saw its third straight month of higher year-over-year showing activity…The 5.5% increase in showings nationwide was the largest jump in activity during the now three-month streak of year-over-year increases vs. 2018.”
The same report indicates showings increased in every region of the country:
- The South increased by 10.8%
- The West increased by 8.6%
- The Northeast increased by 3.8%
- The Midwest increased by 1.5%
Why is the traffic more active?
One of the main reasons buyer traffic has increased year-over-year is that mortgage rates have fallen dramatically. According to Freddie Mac, the average mortgage rate last December was 4.64%. Today, the rate is almost a full percentage point lower!
There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your house in 2020, you don’t need to wait until the spring to do it. Your potential buyer may be searching for a home in your neighborhood right now.
It may seem hard to imagine that the home you’re in today – whether it’s your starter home or just one you’ve fallen in love with along the way – might not be your forever home.
The good news is, it’s okay to admit if your house no longer fits your needs.
According to the latest Home Price Insights from CoreLogic, prices have appreciated 3.5% year-over-year. At the same time, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports inventory has dropped 4.3% from one year ago.These two statistics are directly related to one another. As inventory has decreased and demand has increased, prices have been driven up.
This is great news if you own a home and are thinking about selling. The equity in your house has likely risen as prices have increased. Even better is the fact that there’s a large pool of buyers out there searching for the American dream, and your home may be high on their wish list.
If you think you’ve outgrown your home, let’s get together to discuss local market conditions and determine if now is the best time for you to sell.
Over the past year, mortgage rates have fallen more than a full percentage point. This is a great driver for homeownership, as today’s low rates provide consumers with some significant benefits. Here’s a look at three of them:
- Refinance: If you already own a home, you may want to decide if you’re going to refinance. It’s one way to lock in a lower monthly payment and save substantially over time, but it also means paying upfront closing costs too. You have to answer the question: Should I refinance my home?
- Move-up or Downsize: Another option is to consider moving into a new home, putting the equity you’ve likely gained in your current house toward a down payment on a new one that better meets your needs – something that’s truly a perfect fit for your family.
- Become a First-Time Homebuyer: There are many financial and non-financial benefits to owning a home, and the most important thing is to first decide when the time is right for you. You have to determine that on your own, but know that now is a great time to buy if you’re considering it. Just take a look at the cost of renting vs. buying
Why 2019 Was a Great Year for Homeownership
Last year at this time, mortgage rates were 4.63% (substantially higher than they are today). If you’re one who waited for a better time to make a move, market conditions have improved significantly. Today’s low mortgage rates combined with increasing wages are making homes much more affordable than they were just one year ago, so it’s a great time to get more for your money and consider a new home.
The chart below shows how much you would save based on today’s rates, compared to what you would have paid if you purchased a house exactly one year ago, depending on how much you finance.
If you’ve been waiting since last year to make your move into homeownership, or to find a house that better meets your needs, today’s low mortgage rates may be just what you need to get the process going. Let’s get together to discuss how you can benefit from the current rates.
Saving for a down payment is a key step in the homebuying process, and it’s not the only piece you need to include in your budget. Another factor that’s important to plan for is the closing costs required to obtain a mortgage.
What Are Closing Costs?
According to Trulia,
“When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”
For those who buy a $250,000 home, for example, that amount could be between $5,000 and $12,500 in closing fees. Keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your costs could be significantly greater. As mentioned before,
Closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price.
Trulia gives more great advice, saying,
“There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.
The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”
Let’s get together to discuss the homebuying process, to be sure your plan includes budgeting for what you need to purchase your dream home – without any surprises!
Some are reporting that there is trepidation regarding the real estate market in the United States. Apparently, the American people are quite comfortable.
Porch.com, a major network helping homeowners with their renovation projects, recently conducted a survey which asked Americans:
“What do you believe is the safest investment over the next 10 years?”
U.S. housing came in at number one, beating out other investments such as gold, stocks, bonds, and savings.
Here is a graph showing the top five investments Americans selected:The findings of the Porch.com survey also coincide with two previous surveys done earlier this year:
- The Federal Reserve Bank’s 2019 Consumer Expectations Housing Survey reported that 65% of Americans believe homeownership is a good financial investment, and that the percentage has increased in each of the last four years.
- The Gallup survey showed that Americans have picked real estate as the “best” investment for six straight years.
Based on all three surveys done this year, we can see that Americans still believe in homeownership as a great investment, and that feeling continues to grow.
At this time of year, many families come together to celebrate the season. It’s also the time when many realize their homes are just not quite big enough to host all of their guests and loved ones. Are you one of those homeowners dreaming for a larger space to call home?
You may have enough equity in your current home to move up.
According to the Q3 2019 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report by ATTOM Data Solutions,
“14.4 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value.”
This means that one in four of the 54 million mortgaged homes in the U.S. have at least 50% equity. If these homeowners decide to sell, they can use their equity to put toward the purchase of a new home. Maybe you’ll be one of them.
NAR recently released their 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showing that,
“This year, home sellers cited that they sold their homes for a median of $60,000 more than they purchased it, up from $55,500 the year prior. This accounted for a 31 percent price gain, up from 29 percent the year before.”
Here’s the equity gain breakdown based on the number of years these sellers lived in their homes:
If you’re one of the many homeowners with big dreams of owning a larger home, let’s get together. Working with a trusted advisor to find out how much equity you have is a great first step in putting your move-up plan in motion.
Did you know that each year in the United States, we celebrate “National Roof Over Your Head Day” on December 3rd?
As noted on the National Calendar, it was “created as a day to be thankful for what you have, starting with the roof over your head. There are many things that we have that we take for granted and do not stop to appreciate how fortunate we are for having them.”
From bungalows to cottages, and farmhouses to treehouses, today we show our appreciation and gratitude for the places we call home. Owning the roof that shelters us is something many renters still aspire to, knowing there are so many financial and non-financial benefits to homeownership.
According to the 2019 State of the Nation’s Housing from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University,
“Cost-burdened renters now outnumber cost-burdened homeowners by more than 3.0 million. In addition, renters make up 10.8 million of the 18.2 million severely burdened households that pay more than half their incomes for housing.”
Homeownership drives many benefits, including providing families with a place to feel secure. It also helps promote confidence that they are investing proactively in themselves and their communities. That is why there are 77.7 million owner-occupied housing units in the United States.
Many, however, fear it is too expensive to own a home. In reality, however, it’s actually more expensive to rent. Here’s the breakdown as a percentage of income necessary for both – affording median rent and owning a home:
Today we pause to appreciate the places we call home, and all of the other reasons we have to be truly thankful. For those who don’t own yet and would like to, it’s a wonderful time to start identifying the steps to take toward homeownership. Let’s connect today to begin creating your plan.