Category Archives: For Buyers

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Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC]

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • The best advice carries across multiple areas of life. When it comes to homebuying, a few simple tips can help you stay on track.
  • Because of increased demand, you’ll need to be patient and embrace compromises during your search. Then, once you’ve fallen in love, commit by putting your best offer forward.
  • If you’re looking to buy a home this year, let’s connect so you have a dedicated partner and teammate to help you find the one.

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The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move?

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | Simplifying The Market

The last 18 months changed what many buyers are looking for in a home. Recently, the American Institute of Architects released their AIA Home Design Trends Survey results for Q3 2021. The survey reveals the following:

  • 70% of respondents want more outdoor living space
  • 69% of respondents want a home office (48% wanted multiple offices)
  • 46% of respondents want a multi-function room/flexible space
  • 42% of respondents want an au pair/in-law suite
  • 39% of respondents want an exercise room/yoga space

If you’re a homeowner who wants to add any of the above, you have two options: renovate your current house or buy a home that already has the spaces you desire. The decision you make could be determined by factors like:

  1. A possible desire to relocate
  2. The difference in the cost of a renovation versus a purchase
  3. Finding an existing home or designing a new home that has exactly what you want (versus trying to restructure the layout of your current house)

In either case, you’ll need access to capital: the funds for the renovation or the down payment your next home would require. The great news is that the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

Home Equity Is Skyrocketing

The record-setting increases in home prices over the last two years dramatically improved homeowners’ equity. The graph below uses data from CoreLogic to show the average home equity gain in the first quarter of the last nine years:The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | Simplifying The MarketOdeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, quantifies the amount of equity homeowners gained recently:

“Remember U.S. households own nearly $35 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $11 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$24 trillion in equity. In inflation adjusted terms, homeowners in Q2 had an average of $280,000 in equity- a historic high.”

As a homeowner, the money you need to purchase the perfect home or renovate your current house may be right at your fingertips. However, waiting to make your decision may increase the cost of tapping that equity.

If you decide to renovate, you’ll need to refinance (or take out an equity loan) to access the equity. If you decide to move instead and use your equity as a down payment, you’ll still need to mortgage the remaining difference between the down payment and the cost of your next home.

Mortgage rates are forecast to increase over the next year. Waiting to leverage your equity will probably mean you’ll pay more to do so. According to the latest data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), almost 57% of current mortgage holders have a mortgage rate of 4% or below. If you’re one of those homeowners, you can keep your mortgage rate under 4% by doing it now. If you’re one of the 43% of homeowners with a mortgage rate over 4%, you may be able to do a cash-out refinance or buy a more expensive home without significantly increasing your monthly payment.

First Step: Determine the Amount of Equity in Your Home

If you’re ready to either redesign your current house or find an existing or newly constructed home that has everything you want, the first thing you need to do is determine how much equity you have in your current home. To do that, you’ll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can probably find the mortgage balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To find the current market value of your house, you can pay several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or you can contact a local real estate professional who will be able to present to you, at no charge, a professional equity assessment report.

Bottom Line

If the past 18 months have refocused your thoughts on what you want from your house, now may be the time to either renovate or make a move to the perfect home.

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Don’t Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You

Don’t Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | Simplifying The Market

Today’s housing market is truly one for the record books. Over the past year, we’ve seen the lowest mortgage rates in history. And while those rates seemed to bottom out in January of this year, the golden window of opportunity for buyers isn’t over just yet. If you’re one of the buyers who worry they’ve missed out, rest assured today’s mortgage rates are still worth taking advantage of.

Even today, our mortgage rates are below what they’ve been in recent decades. So, while you may not be able to lock in the rate your friend got recently, you’re still in a great position to secure a rate well below what your parents and even grandparents got in years past. The key will be acting sooner rather than later.

In late September, mortgage rates ticked above 3% for the first time in months. And according to experts throughout the industry, mortgage rates are projected to continue rising in the months ahead. Here’s where experts say rates are headed:Don’t Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | Simplifying The MarketWhile a projected half percentage point increase may not seem substantial, it does have an impact when you’re buying a home. When rates rise even slightly, it affects how much you’ll pay month-to-month on your home loan. The chart below shows how it works:Don’t Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | Simplifying The MarketIn this example, if rates rise to 3.55%, you’ll pay an extra $100 each month on your monthly mortgage payment if you purchase a home around this time next year. That extra money can really add up over the life of a 15 or 30-year loan.

Clearly, today’s mortgage rates are worth taking advantage of before they climb further. The rates we’re seeing right now give you a unique opportunity to afford more home for your money while keeping your monthly payment down.

Bottom Line

Waiting for a lower mortgage rate could cost you. Experts project rates will continue to rise in the months ahead. Let’s connect so you can seize this opportunity before they increase further.

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Experts Agree: Homeownership Provides a Path to Long-Term Wealth

Experts Agree: Homeownership Provides a Path to Long-Term Wealth | Simplifying The Market

A recent survey from LendingTree.com found there are multiple reasons why Americans would choose to purchase a home instead of renting. Some of the most popular non-financial reasons given include:

  • The flexibility to make the space your own
  • The pride homeownership offers
  • The sense of stability

In the same survey, 41% of respondents say they’d rather own a home than rent because of the unique way homeownership builds wealth over time.

And experts agree – the home you own is an important tool for building your net worth. Here’s what many of those experts have to say about building long-term financial stability through homeownership.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Homeowners who purchased a typical single-family existing-home 30 years ago at the median sales price of $103,333 with a 10% down payment loan and who sold the property at the median sales price of $357,700 in 2021 Q2 accumulated housing wealth of $349,258, . . .

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, points out that a home is truly a one-of-a-kind asset. It’s the only asset that’s both an investment and a place for you to call your own.

“The major financial advantage of homeownership is the accumulation of equity in the form of house price appreciation. . . . We won’t always have 17% house price appreciation, but we have to take into account the fact that the shelter that you’re owning is an equity-generating or wealth-generating asset.

Homeowners can leverage the wealth they generate in several ways throughout their life. Tapping into accumulated equity has long been used to pay for the cost of an education, to start a business, or to fund various other expenses. The Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard points out:

“. . . by paying down mortgage principal each month and participating in the long-term appreciation of home values, a family can build wealth that can be used for retirement or other needs, including helping the next generation.

Bottom Line

With home prices expected to continue to appreciate in coming years, homebuyers have an opportunity to start the long-term wealth-building process right now. Let’s connect today if you’re ready to begin your journey on the path to becoming a homeowner.

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111,285 Reasons You Should Buy a Home This Year

111,285 Reasons You Should Buy a Home This Year | Simplifying The Market

The financial benefits of buying a home versus renting one are always up for debate. However, one element of the equation is often ignored – the ability to build wealth as a homeowner.

According to the latest research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

Homeownership is a key pathway to building wealth and narrowing the racial income and wealth inequality gap. Housing wealth (equity) accumulation takes time and is built up by price appreciation and paying off the mortgage.”

An increase in equity builds the wealth of the individual that owns it. This wealth can be passed down to future generations. The Federal Reserve in an addendum to their Survey of Consumer Finances explains:

“There are numerous ways families can transmit wealth and resources across generations. Families can directly transfer their wealth to the next generation in the form of a bequest. They can also provide the next generation with inter vivos transfers (gifts), for example, providing down payment support to enable a home purchase or a substantial wedding gift.”

The Federal Reserve also explains another way wealth (including the additional net worth generated by an increase in home equity) can benefit future generations:

“In addition to direct transfers or gifts, families can make investments in their children that indirectly increase their wealth. For example, families can invest in their children’s educational success by paying for college or private schools, which can in turn increase their children’s ability to accumulate wealth.”

Here’s a look at how equity can build your wealth over time when you own a home.

Equity over the Last 30 Years

The NAR research reveals that the average gain for homeowners over the last five years was $139,134 and over the last 10 years was $218,505. Looking even further back in time, the article says:

“Homeowners who purchased a typical single-family existing-home 30 years ago at the median sales price of $103,333 with a 10% down payment loan and who sold the property at the median sales price of $357,700 in 2021 Q2 accumulated housing wealth of $349,258.”

Homeownership builds household wealth which also enables households to more easily move to the home of their dreams. As Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“As homeowners gain equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home – the wealth effect of rising equity.”

If you missed out on the equity gains over the last 30 years, don’t fret. Experts are still calling for substantial growth in equity over the next five years.

Looking Forward at the Equity To Come

The most recent Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists, expects home values (and therefore equity) to increase as follows:

  • 2021: 11.74%
  • 2022: 5.82%
  • 2023: 3.94%
  • 2024: 3.56%
  • 2025: 3.55%

The survey estimates a 31.8% cumulative appreciation over the next five years. Using their annual projections, the graph below shows the equity build-up a purchaser could earn, using a $350,000 home as an example:111,285 Reasons You Should Buy a Home This Year | Simplifying The MarketThat’s a potential increase in household wealth of $111,285 over five years.

Bottom Line

Owning a home is one of the best ways to grow your wealth over time. House wealth can impact generations. In many cases, the largest single investment a household has is their home. As that investment appreciates in value, the financial options also increase.

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What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market?

What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market? | Simplifying The Market

There’s a well-known economic theory – the law of supply and demand – that explains what’s happening with prices in the current real estate market. Put simply, when demand for an item is high, prices rise. When the supply of the item increases, prices fall. Of course, when demand is very high and supply is very low, prices can rise significantly.

Understanding the impact both supply and demand have can provide the answers to a few popular questions about today’s housing market:

  • Why are prices rising?
  • Where are prices headed?
  • What does this mean for homebuyers?

Why Are Prices Rising?

According to the latest Home Price Insights report from CoreLogic, home prices have risen 18.1% since this time last year. But what’s driving the increase?

Recent buyer and seller activity data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) helps answer that question. When we take NAR’s buyer activity data and compare it to the seller traffic during the same timeframe, we can see buyer demand continues to outpace seller activity by a wide margin. In other words, the demand for homes is significantly greater than the current supply that’s available to buy (see maps below):What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market? | Simplifying The MarketThis combination of low supply and high demand is what’s driving home prices up. Bill McBride, author of the Calculated Risk blog, puts it best, saying:

“By some measures, house prices seem high, but the recent price increases make sense from a supply and demand perspective.

Where Are Prices Headed?

The supply of homes for sale will greatly affect where prices head over the coming months. Many experts forecast prices will continue to increase, but they’ll likely appreciate at a slower rate.

Buyers hoping to purchase the home of their dreams may see this as welcome news. In this case, perspective is important: a slight moderation of home prices does not mean prices will depreciate or fall. Price increases may occur at a slower pace, but experts still expect them to rise.

Five major entities that closely follow the real estate market forecast home prices will continue appreciating through 2022 (see graph below):What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market? | Simplifying The Market

What Does This Mean for Homebuyers?

If you’re waiting to enter the market because you’re expecting prices to drop, you may end up paying more in the long run. Even if price increases occur at a slower rate next year, prices are still projected to rise. That means the home of your dreams will likely cost even more in 2022.

Bottom Line

The truth is, high demand and low supply are what’s driving up home prices in today’s housing market. And while prices may increase at a slower pace in the coming months, experts still expect them to rise. If you’re a potential homebuyer, let’s connect today to discuss what that could mean for you if you wait even longer to buy.

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The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates

The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The Market

Every Thursday, Freddie Mac releases the results of their Primary Mortgage Market Survey which reveals the most recent movement in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate. Last week, the rate was announced as 3.01%. It was the first time in three months that the mortgage rate surpassed 3%. In a press release accompanying the survey, Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:

“Mortgage rates rose across all loan types this week as the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield reached its highest point since June.”

The reason Khater mentions the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield is because there has been a very strong relationship between the yield and the 30-year mortgage rate over the last five decades. Here’s a graph showing that relationship:The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The MarketThe relationship has also been consistent throughout 2021 as evidenced by this graph:The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The MarketThe Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The MarketThe graph also reveals the most recent jump in mortgage rates was preceded by a jump in the 10-year Treasury rate (called out by the red circles).

So, What Impacts the Yield Rate?

According to Investopedia:

“There are a number of economic factors that impact Treasury yields, such as interest rates, inflation, and economic growth.”

Since there are currently concerns about inflation and economic growth due to the pandemic, the Treasury yield spiked last week. That spike impacted mortgage rates.

What Does This Mean for You?

Khater, in the Freddie Mac release mentioned above, says:

“We expect mortgage rates to continue to rise modestly which will likely have an impact on home prices, causing them to moderate slightly after increasing over the last year.”

Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), also addresses the issue:

“Consumers shouldn’t panic. Keep in mind that even though rates will increase in the following months, these rates will still be historically low. The National Association of REALTORS forecasts the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to reach 3.5% by mid-2022.”

Bottom Line

Forecasting mortgage rates is very difficult. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, once quipped:

“You know, the fallacy of economic forecasting is don’t ever try and forecast interest rates and or, more specifically, if you’re a real estate economist mortgage rates, because you will always invariably be wrong.”

That being said, if you’re either a first-time homebuyer or a current homeowner thinking of moving into a home that better fits your current needs, keep abreast of what’s happening with mortgage rates. It may very well impact your decision.

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As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth

As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth | Simplifying The Market

Homeownership is still a crucial part of the American dream. For those people who own a home (and those looking to buy one), it’s clear that being a homeowner has considerable benefits both emotionally and financially. In addition to long-term stability, buying a home is one of the best ways to increase your net worth. This boost to your wealth comes in the form of equity.

Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation.

The best thing about equity is that it often grows without you even realizing it, especially in a sellers’ market like we’re in now. In today’s real estate market, the combination of low housing supply and high buyer demand is driving home values up. This is giving homeowners a significant equity boost.

According to the latest data from CoreLogic, the amount of equity homeowners have has continued to grow as home values appreciate. Here are some key takeaways from the Homeowner Equity Insights Report:

  • The average homeowner gained $51,500 in equity over the past year
  • There was a 29.3% increase in national homeowner equity year over year

To give you an idea of what that looks like in your area, the map below shows the average equity gains by state.As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth | Simplifying The Market

What does all of that mean for you?

If you’re already a homeowner, you likely have more equity in your house than you realize. The numbers in the map above reflect year-over-year growth. If you’ve been in your home for longer than a year, you’ll likely have even more equity than that. That equity can take you places. You can use the equity you’ve gained to fuel your next move, achieve other life goals, and more.

On the other hand, if you haven’t purchased a home yet, understanding equity can help you realize why homeownership is a worthwhile goal. Homeowners across the nation gained an average of over $50,000 in equity this year. Don’t miss out on this chance to grow your net worth.

Bottom Line

If you want to learn more, let’s connect. A trusted advisor can help you understand where home prices are today, how they contribute to a homeowner’s net worth, and the impact equity can have when you own a home.

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Reasons Renters Buy [INFOGRAPHIC]

Reasons Renters Buy [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Reasons Renters Buy [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • When deciding whether you should rent or buy, make sure you’re considering these factors.
  • Buying a home means consistent monthly payments. Homeownership also helps to build your wealth. And owning a home gives you greater flexibility than renting.
  • If you’re ready to take advantage of the perks of homeownership, let’s connect to explore your options.

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Early October is the Sweet Spot for Buyers

Early October is the Sweet Spot for Buyers | Simplifying The Market

Are you looking to buy a home? If so, we’ve got good news for you.

While there’s no denying the housing market is having a great year, many of the headlines are focused on the perks for sellers. But what about buyers today? As a buyer, you’re likely braving bidding wars and weighing low mortgage rates versus price appreciation as you search for your dream home. If you find yourself a bit discouraged, hear this: there are clear signs buyers may have more opportunities this fall.

According to realtor.com, the sweet spot for buyers is just around the corner. In a recent study, experts analyzed housing market trends by looking at data from the past several years. When applied to the current market, experts determined the ideal week to buy a home this year. The research says:

Nationally, the best time to buy in 2021 is the week of October 3-9. This week historically has shown the best balance of market conditions that favor buyers.”

So, what’s that mean for you? If you’re looking to buy a home, there’s a golden window of opportunity coming. Here’s what you can expect from that week.

Increased Housing Supply

The number of homes available for sale should increase. According to realtor.com, you can expect to see more new listings come to market the week of October 3. The findings estimate we’ll see roughly 17.6% more homes available than we saw at the start of the year.

This means you’ll have more options to choose from which should be a welcome relief in a market with tight housing supply.

Fewer Bidding Wars

With more homes available, you should also see a slight decline in the number of bidding wars. Having more options means buyers may not be competing as intensely for the homes on the market because there are more choices to go around.

This means when you write an offer, you may have less competition and a better chance of being the top bid. Just remember, it’s still important to come in with a strong offer.

Adjusted Homes Prices

As we move into the end of the year, the findings from realtor.com note this week may also be one of the peak weeks for price reductions in 2021. Historically the data shows an average of 7.0% of homes have a price reduction that week. Why? When housing supply ticks up, sellers need to look for other ways to make their house stand out.

This means, while home prices are still appreciating overall, you may see some homes with price adjustments from eager sellers. The process of closing a house takes time. To close before end of year, sellers may be more motivated this October.

Bottom Line

If you’re in the market for a home, don’t lose steam now. Data shows early October may give you the long-awaited opportunity to find the home of your dreams. Let’s connect so you have a trusted ally and advisor to help keep you motivated so you can find the perfect home for you.

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