All posts by Brenda Jones

It Pays to Sell with a Real Estate Agent [INFOGRAPHIC]

It Pays to Sell with a Real Estate Agent [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

It Pays to Sell with a Real Estate Agent [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Today, it’s more important than ever to have an expert you trust to guide you as you sell your house.
  • From your safety throughout the process to the complexity of negotiating the deal, you need a professional on your side.
  • Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house on your own, let’s connect to discuss your options.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Will Mortgage Rates Remain Low Next Year?

Will Mortgage Rates Remain Low Next Year? | Simplifying The Market

In 2020, buyers got a big boost in the housing market as mortgage rates dropped throughout the year. According to Freddie Mac, rates hit all-time lows 12 times this year, dipping below 3% for the first time ever while making buying a home more and more attractive as the year progressed (See graph below):

Will Mortgage Rates Remain Low Next Year? | Simplifying The MarketWhen you continually hear how rates are hitting record lows, you may be wondering: Are they going to keep falling? Should I wait until they get even lower?

The Challenge with Waiting

The challenge with waiting is that you can easily miss this optimal window of time and then end up paying more in the long run. Last week, mortgage rates ticked up slightly. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:

Mortgage rates jumped this week as a result of positive news about a COVID-19 vaccine. Despite this rise, mortgage rates remain about a percentage point below a year ago.”

While rates are still lower today than they were one year ago, as the economy continues to get stronger and the pandemic is resolved, there’s a very good chance interest rates will rise again. Several top institutions in the real estate industry are projecting an increase in mortgage rates over the next four quarters (See chart below): Will Mortgage Rates Remain Low Next Year? | Simplifying The MarketIf you’re planning to wait until next year or later, Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), forecasts mortgage rates will begin to steadily rise:Will Mortgage Rates Remain Low Next Year? | Simplifying The MarketAs a buyer, you need to decide if waiting makes financial sense for you.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to buy a home and want to take advantage of today’s low rates, now is the time to do so. Don’t assume they’re going to stay this low forever.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Chances of Another Foreclosure Crisis? “About Zero Percent.”

Chances of Another Foreclosure Crisis? “About Zero Percent.” | Simplifying The Market

There seems to be some concern that the 2020 economic downturn will lead to another foreclosure crisis like the one we experienced after the housing crash a little over a decade ago. However, there’s one major difference this time: a robust forbearance program.

During the housing crash of 2006-2008, many felt homeowners should be forced to pay their mortgages despite the economic hardships they were experiencing. There was no empathy for the challenges those households were facing. In a 2009 Wall Street Journal article titled Is Walking Away From Your Mortgage Immoral?, John Courson, Chief Executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association, was asked to comment on those not paying their mortgage. He famously said:

“What about the message they will send to their family and their kids?”

Courson suggested that people unable to pay their mortgage were bad parents.

What resulted from that lack of empathy? Foreclosures mounted.

This time is different. There was an immediate understanding that homeowners were faced with a challenge not of their own making. The government quickly jumped in with a mortgage forbearance program that relieved the financial burden placed on many households. The program allowed many borrowers to suspend their monthly mortgage payments until their economic condition improved. It was the right thing to do.

What happens when forbearance programs expire?

Some analysts are concerned many homeowners will not be able to make up the back payments once their forbearance plans expire. They’re concerned the situation will lead to an onslaught of foreclosures.

The banks and the government learned from the challenges the country experienced during the housing crash. They don’t want a surge of foreclosures again. For that reason, they’ve put in place alternative ways homeowners can pay back the money owed over an extended period of time.

Another major difference is that, unlike 2006-2008, today’s homeowners are sitting on a record amount of equity. That equity will enable them to sell their houses and walk away with cash instead of going through foreclosure.

Bottom Line

The differences mentioned above will be the reason we’ll avert a surge of foreclosures. As Ivy Zelman, a highly respected thought leader for housing and CEO of Zelman & Associates, said:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Homes for Sale Are Rapidly Disappearing

Homes for Sale Are Rapidly Disappearing | Simplifying The Market

Through all the challenges of 2020, the real estate market has done very well, and purchasers are continuing to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates. Realtor Magazine just explained:

“While winter may be typically a slow season in real estate, economists predict it isn’t likely to happen this year…Low inventories combined with high demand due to record-low mortgage rates is sending buyers to the market in a flurry.”

However, one challenge for the housing industry heading into this winter is the dwindling number of homes available for sale. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), recently said:

“There is no shortage of hopeful, potential buyers, but inventory is historically low.”

In addition, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, notes:

“Fewer new sellers coming to market while a greater than usual number of buyers continue to search for a home causes inventory to continue to evaporate.”

One major indicator the industry uses to measure housing supply is the months’ supply of inventory. According to NAR:

“Months’ supply refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes on the market to sell given the current sales pace.”

Historically, six months of supply is considered a normal real estate market. Going into the pandemic, inventory was already well below this mark. As the year progressed, the supply has was reduced even further. Here is a graph showing this measurement over the last year:Homes for Sale Are Rapidly Disappearing | Simplifying The Market

What does this mean if you’re a buyer?

Be patient during your home search. It may take time to find a home you love. Once you do, be ready to move forward quickly. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, be prepared to make a competitive offer from the start, and understand how the shortage in inventory has led to more bidding wars. Calculate just how far you’re willing to go to secure a home if you truly love it.

What does this mean if you’re a seller?

Realize that, in some ways, you’re in the driver’s seat. When there’s a shortage of an item at the same time there’s a strong demand for it, the seller is in a good position to negotiate. Whether it’s the price, moving date, possible repairs, or anything else, you’ll be able to ask for more from a potential purchaser at a time like this – especially if you have multiple interested buyers. Do not be unreasonable, but understand you probably have the upper hand.

Bottom Line

The housing market will remain strong throughout the winter and heading into the spring. Know what that means for you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Why Working from Home May Spark Your Next Move

Why Working from Home May Spark Your Next Move | Simplifying The Market

If you’ve been working from home this year, chances are you’ve been at it a little longer than you initially expected. Businesses all over the country have figured out how to operate remotely to keep their employees healthy, safe, and productive. For many, it may be carrying into next year, and possibly beyond.

While the pandemic continues, Americans are re-evaluating their homes, floorplans, locations, needs, and more. Some need more space, while others need less. Whether you’re renting or own your home, if remote work is part of your future, you may be thinking about moving, especially while today’s mortgage rates are so low.

A recent study from Upwork notes:

“Anywhere from 14 to 23 million Americans are planning to move as a result of remote work.”

To put this into perspective, last year, 6 million homes were sold in the U.S. This means roughly 2 – 4X as many people are considering moving now, and there’s a direct connection to their ability to work from home.

The same study also notes while 45.3% of people are planning to stay within a 2-hour drive from their current location, 41.5% of the people who are citing working from home as their primary reason for making a move are willing to look for a home more than 4 hours away from where they live now (See graph below):Why Working from Home May Spark Your Next Move | Simplifying The MarketIn some cases, moving a little further away from your current location might mean you can get more home for your money. If you have the opportunity to work remotely, you may have more options available by expanding your search. Upwork also indicates, of those surveyed:

“People are seeking less expensive housing: Altogether, more than half (52.5%) are planning to move to a house that is significantly more affordable than their current home.”

Whether you can eliminate your daily commute to the office, or you simply need more space to work from home, your plans may be changing. If that’s the case, it’s time to connect with a local real estate professional to assess your evolving needs and determine your path together.

Bottom Line

This has been a year of change, and what you need in a home is no exception. Let’s connect today to make sure you have expert guidance on your side to help you find a home that fits your remote work needs.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Tips to Sell Your House Safely Right Now [INFOGRAPHIC]

Tips to Sell Your House Safely Right Now [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Tips to Sell Your House Safely Right Now [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Your agent now has over 6 months of experience selling houses during the pandemic and can make the process easier and safer for you today.
  • COVID-19 protocols and technology usage recommendations from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are making it possible to sell houses right now, while agents continue to abide first and foremost by state and local regulations.
  • Let’s connect to discuss how to sell your house safely in today’s housing market.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Winter Will Bring a Flurry of Activity to the Housing Market

Winter Will Bring a Flurry of Activity to the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

In the second half of this year, the housing market surged with activity. Today, real estate experts are looking ahead to the winter season and the forecast is anything but chilly. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), notes:

“It will be one of the best winter sales years ever.”

The typical winter slowdown in the housing market is simply not on the radar. Here’s why.

While today’s historically low mortgage rates are expected to remain low, they won’t be this low for much longer. This could be the last chance for homebuyers to secure such low rates, and they’re ready to take action. In a recent article, Bankrate explained:

“If you’re looking to buy a home…expect mortgage rates to remain low into 2021. However, the possibility of rates falling to 2.5 percent or lower has faded as the U.S. economy has rebounded.”

As long as we continue to see low interest rates, we’ll see hopeful buyers on the hunt for their dream homes. Yun confirmed:

“The demand for home buying remains super strong…And we’re still likely to end the year with more homes sold overall in 2020 than in 2019…With persistent low mortgage rates and some degree of a continuing jobs recovery, more contract signings are expected in the near future.”

The challenge, however, is the lack of homes available for sale. With that in mind, all eyes are on homeowners to see if they’ll sell this winter or wait until spring. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, says it’s best for sellers to capitalize on this moment sooner rather than later:

“We currently see buyers sticking around in the housing market much later than we usually do this fall. If that trend continues, we will see more buyers in the market this winter, too. So, this winter is likely to be a good time to sell.”

With buyers ready to stay active this winter, sellers who want to close a deal on the best possible terms shouldn’t wait until spring to put their homes on the market.

Bottom Line

Experts agree the winter housing market could potentially be bigger than ever. Whether you’re ready to buy or sell, let’s connect today so you can be in your dream home by the new year.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

VA Home Loans: Helping Heroes Find a Home

VA Home Loans: Important Housing Benefits for Veterans | Simplifying The Market

Today, on Veterans Day, we honor those who have served our country and thank them for their continued dedication to our nation. In the United States, there are many valuable benefits available to Veterans, including VA home loans. For over 75 years, VA home loans have provided millions of Veterans and their families the opportunity to purchase their own homes.

As we consider the full impact of VA home loans, it’s important to both understand these great options for Veterans and to share them with those we know who may be able to benefit most. For a variety of different reasons, many Veterans don’t use their VA home loan options, so being knowledgeable about what’s available and how they work may be a game-changer for many.

Facts about 2019 VA Home Loans (most current data):

  • 624,546 home loans were guaranteed by the Veterans Administration.
  • 306,879 VA home loans were made without a down payment.
  • 2,055 grants totaling $118 million were provided to help seriously disabled Veterans purchase, modify, or construct a home to meet their needs.

VA Home Loans Often Offer:

  • No down payment options as long as the sales price isn’t higher than the home’s appraised value.
  • Better terms and interest rates than loans from other lenders.
  • Fewer closing costs, which may be paid by the seller.

Bottom Line

The best thing you can do today to celebrate Veterans Day is to share this information with those who can potentially benefit from these loan options. Let’s connect today to discuss your questions about VA home loan benefits. Thank you for your service.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth

Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth | Simplifying The Market

For years, real estate has been considered the best investment you can make. A major reason for this is due to the net worth a household gains through homeownership. In fact, according to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finance Data from the Federal Reserve, for the average homeowner:

“…a primary home accounts for 90% of the total wealth of a family in the U.S.”

How do homeowners gain wealth?

Most large purchases, like cars and appliances, depreciate in value as they age, so it’s understandable to question how owning a home can increase wealth over time. In a simple equation, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains how the combination of paying your mortgage and home price appreciation grow overall wealth:

Principal Payments + Price Appreciation Gains = Housing Wealth Gain

As home values increase and you make payments toward your home loan, you’ll gain wealth through equity. The same article from NAR also addresses how wealth gains tend to play out over time:

“Housing wealth accumulation takes time and is built up by paying off the mortgage debt and by price appreciation. And while home prices can fall, home prices tend to recover and go up over the longer term. As of September 2020, the median sales price of existing home sales was $311,800, a 35% gain since July 2006 when prices peaked at $230,000.”

Taking a look at how equity has grown for the typical homeowner, it’s clear to see how real estate is a sound long-term investment. NAR notes:

“Nationally, a person who purchased a typical home 30 years ago would have typically gained about $283,000 as of the second quarter of 2020.” (See graph below):

Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a current homeowner planning to put your equity toward a new home or have hopes of buying your first home soon, homeownership will always be a great opportunity to build your net worth and overall wealth. Owning a home is truly an investment in your financial future.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Is it Safe to Sell My House Right Now?

Is it Safe to Sell My House Right Now? | Simplifying The Market

In today’s real estate market, the buzz is all about how it’s a great time to sell your house. Buyer demand is high, and there simply aren’t enough homes available to buy to meet that growing need. This means now is the time to make a move so you can close the deal on your ideal terms.

Even in today’s strong sellers’ market, there are homeowners who are choosing not to sell due to ongoing concerns around the health crisis, financial uncertainty, and life in general. According to Zillow, here are the top three reasons homeowners who are thinking of selling sometime in the next three years are not putting their houses on the market right now:

  • 34% – Life is too uncertain right now
  • 31% – Financial uncertainty
  • 25% – COVID-19 health concerns

If you identify with any of these, you’re not alone. Whether it’s the future of your employment situation or simply being uncomfortable having guests in your home for showings, life feels a lot different than it did at this time last year. The good news is, real estate professionals have spent the majority of 2020 figuring out how to sell homes safely, and it’s paying off for those who are choosing to move this year.

Real estate agents are doing two things very well to make selling your house possible:

1. Agents Are Implementing Technology in the Process

While abiding by state and local regulations as a top priority, real estate agents are making sales happen safely and effectively by leveraging key pieces of technology. Agents know exactly what today’s buyers and sellers need and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, agents have capitalized on the technology buyers find most helpful when deciding on a new home:

  • Virtual tours
  • Accurate and detailed listing information
  • Detailed neighborhood information
  • High-quality listing photos
  • Agent-led video chats

They’re listening to their audience and leveraging the tools that help buyers get an initial look at a home without having to step inside. This helps reduce the number of people entering your home, so only those who are very seriously interested need to take the next step: in-person showings.

2. Agents Are Facilitating Safe and Effective In-Person Showings

After leveraging technology, if you have serious buyers who still want to see your house in person, agents are following the guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and utilizing safe ways to proceed. Here are a few of them, understanding again that the agent’s top priority is always to follow­ state and local restrictions first:

  • Limiting in-person activity
  • R­­­equiring guests to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Removing shoes or covering them with booties
  • Following CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

Getting comfortable with your agent – a true trusted advisor – taking these steps under the modern-era safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you’re in a position where you need to sell your house sooner rather than later.

As Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist for Zillow notes:

“Homeowners who feel life is uncertain right now may think they can still get a strong price if they delay selling until they have more clarity. The catch is that waiting to sell may raise the cost of a trade-up. This fall’s record low mortgage rates, which make a trade-up more affordable on a monthly basis, are not guaranteed to last.”

Bottom Line

In this new era in our lives, things are shifting quickly, and virtual strategies for sellers may be your ideal option. Opening your doors up to new approaches could be game-changing when it comes to selling your house while the market is leaning in your favor. Let’s connect so you have a trusted real estate professional to help you safely and effectively navigate all that’s new when it comes to making your next move.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters