Homeownership Is an Investment in Your Future

Homeownership Is an Investment in Your Future | Simplifying The Market

There are many people thinking about buying a home, but with everything affecting the economy, some are wondering if it’s a smart decision to buy now or if it makes more sense to wait it out. As Bob Broeksmit, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explains:

The desire for homeownership is strong. Many prospective buyers are waiting for the volatility in mortgage rates to subside, as well as for a clearer picture of the economic outlook.”

If you’re in that position, remember that it’s important to consider not just what’s happening today but also what benefits you may gain in the long run.

There’s a lot of information out there about how homeownership helps build a homeowner’s net worth over time. But even today, many people think first about things like 401(k)s before they think of owning a home as a wealth-building tool. It’s especially important if you’re a young prospective homebuyer to understand how homeownership is another key way to invest in your future. An article from Bloomberg notes:

“Millennials have higher average 401(k) balances than Generation X did when they were the same age, but they’re not any better off financially. . . . A lot of that has to do with being less likely to own a home.”

To help you understand just how much owning a home can have a positive impact on your life over the years, take a look at what the data shows. The same Bloomberg article helps show the gap in wealth between renters and homeowners who are 65 years and older (see graph below). The difference is substantial, even when incomes are similar.

Homeownership Is an Investment in Your Future | Simplifying The Market

So, if you want to create wealth to help set you up for success later on, it may be time to prioritize homeownership. That’s because, whether you decide to rent or buy a home, you’ll have a monthly housing expense either way. The question is: are you going to invest in yourself and your future, or will you help someone else (your landlord) increase their wealth?

Bottom Line

Before putting your homeownership plans on hold, let’s connect to go over your options. That way, you’ll have expert advice on how to make the best decision right now and the best investment in your future.

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Key Advantages of Buying a Home Today

Key Advantages of Buying a Home Today | Simplifying The Market

There’s no doubt buying a home today is different than it was over the past couple of years, and the shift in the market has led to advantages for buyers today. Right now, there are specific reasons that make this housing market attractive for those who’ve thought about buying but have sidelined their search due to rising mortgage rates.

Buying a home in any market is a personal decision, and the best way to make that decision is to educate yourself on the facts, not following sensationalized headlines in the news today.  The reality is, headlines do more to terrify people thinking about buying a home than they do to clarify what’s actually going on with real estate.

Here are three reasons potential homebuyers should consider buying a home today.

1. More Homes Are for Sale Right Now

According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this year, the supply of homes for sale has grown significantly compared to where we started the year (see graph below):

Key Advantages of Buying a Home Today | Simplifying The Market

 

This growth has happened for two reasons: homeowners listing their homes for sale and homes staying on the market a bit longer as buyer demand has moderated in response to higher mortgage rates.

The good news for you is that more inventory means more homes to choose from. And when there are more homes on the market, you could also see less competition from other buyers because the peak frenzy of competing over the same home has eased too.

2. Home Prices Are Not Projected To Crash

Experts don’t believe home prices will crash like they did in 2008. Instead, home prices will moderate at various levels depending on the local market and the factors, like supply and demand, at play in that area. That’s why some experts are calling for slight appreciation and others are calling for slight depreciation (see graph below):

Key Advantages of Buying a Home Today | Simplifying The Market

If you consider the big picture and average the expert forecasts for 2023 together, the expectation is for relatively flat or neutral price appreciation next year. So, if you’re worried about buying a home because you’re afraid home prices will crash like they did in 2008, rest assured that’s not what expert projections tell us.

3. Mortgage Rates Have Risen, but They Will Come Down

While mortgage rates have risen dramatically this year, the rapid increases we’ve seen have moderated in recent weeks as early signs hint that inflation may be easing slightly. Where they’ll go from here largely depends on what happens next with inflation. If inflation does truly begin to cool, mortgage rates may come down as a result.

When that happens, expect more buyers to jump back into the market. For you, that means you’ll once again face more competition. Buying your house now before more buyers reenter the market could help you get one step ahead. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, says:

The upcoming months should see a return of buyers, as mortgage rates appear to have already peaked and have been coming down since mid-November.”

When mortgage rates come down, those waiting on the sidelines will jump back in. Your advantage is getting in before they do.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you should seriously consider the advantages today’s market offers. Let’s connect so you can make the dream of homeownership a reality. 

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Prioritizing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer in Today’s Market

Prioritizing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer in Today’s Market | Simplifying The Market

There’s no denying mortgage rates are higher now than they were last year. And if you’re thinking about buying a home, this may be top of mind for you. That’s because those higher rates impact how much it costs to borrow money for your home loan. As you set out to make a purchase this winter, you’ll need to be strategic so you can find a home that meets your needs and budget.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

“The key to making a good decision in this challenging housing market is to be laser focused on what you need now and in the years ahead, . . . Another key point is to avoid stretching your budget, as tempting as it may be given the diminished purchasing power.”

In other words, it’s important to be mindful of what’s a necessity and what’s a nice-to-have when searching for a home. And the best way to understand this is to put together a list of desired features for your home search.

The first step? Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval helps you better understand what you can borrow for your home loan, and that plays an important role in how you’ll craft your list. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a home that’s out of reach. Once you have a good grasp of your budget, you can begin to list (and prioritize) all the features of a home you would like.

Here’s a great way to think about them before you begin:

  • Must-Haves – If a house doesn’t have these features, it won’t work for you and your lifestyle (examples: distance from work or loved ones, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, etc.).
  • Nice-To-Haves – These are features that you’d love to have but can live without. Nice-To-Haves aren’t dealbreakers, but if you find a home that hits all the must-haves and some of the these, it’s a contender (examples: a second home office, a garage, etc.).
  • Dream State – This is where you can really think big. Again, these aren’t features you’ll need, but if you find a home in your budget that has all the must-haves, most of the nice-to-haves, and any of these, it’s a clear winner (examples: farmhouse sink, multiple walk-in closets, etc.).

Finally, once you’ve created your list and categorized it in a way that works for you, discuss it with your real estate advisor. They’ll be able to help you refine the list further, coach you through the best way to stick to it, and find a home in your area that meets your needs.

Bottom Line

Putting together your list of necessary features for your next home might seem like a small task, but it’s a crucial first step on your homebuying journey today. If you’re ready to find a home that fits your needs, let’s connect.

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What You Want To Know If You’re Pursuing Your Dream of Homeownership

What You Want To Know If You’re Pursuing Your Dream of Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

If you’re a young adult, you may be thinking about your goals and priorities for the months and years ahead. And if homeownership ranks high on your goal sheet, you’re in good company. Many of your peers are also pursuing their dream of owning a home. The 2022 Millennial & Gen Z Borrower Sentiment Report from Maxwell says:

“Many young adults have demonstrated their resolve to embark on the journey toward homeownership soon. More than half of millennials and Gen Zs plan to apply for a mortgage sometime within the next year.”

Let’s take a look at why homeownership makes the top of so many young buyers’ to-do list and what you need to consider to achieve your goals if you’re one of them.

Top Motivators To Buy a Home

Before you start the homebuying process, it’s helpful to know why homeownership is so important to you. The survey mentioned above sheds light on some of the top reasons why younger generations are looking to buy a home. It finds:

No matter which of these resonates the most with you, know there are many financial and non-financial reasons why you may want to buy a home. While your top motivator may be different than that of your friends, they’re all equally valid and worthwhile.

Key Obstacles and How To Overcome Them

Whether your homeownership goals come from the heart or are driven by financial aspirations (or both), it can still be hard to know where to start when you’re looking to buy a home. From understanding the homebuying process, to getting pre-approved, and exploring down payment options, it’s a lot to wrap your head around.

The same Maxwell survey also reveals key challenges for potential buyers. Thankfully, the knowledge and guidance of a trusted real estate professional can help you overcome both. Here’s a look at two of the hurdles potential homebuyers say they face:

1. The Mortgage Process Can Be Intimidating

In the Maxwell study, 33.37% said one of their obstacles was that the mortgage process is confusing or difficult to understand.

An article by OwnUp helps explain why the mortgage process is so challenging for buyers:

“There is a general lack of knowledge about home financing. Mortgages are a complicated topic with no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s difficult to understand the space, let alone determine what the right course of action is based on your unique financial picture.

While you may be tempted to do a quick search online to find instant answers to your questions, it may not get you the information you need to understand the full picture. Especially when it comes to financial advice, you want to lean on a true expert. Having trusted professionals on your side can help you to learn what it takes to achieve your dream of homeownership. Not to mention, an expert can give you advice specific to your situation, not generic advice like you’ll find online.

2. It’s Hard To Know How Much You Need To Save

In the Maxwell study, 45.75% believe they don’t have enough saved to cover their down payment or closing cost expenses.

What you may not realize is that, today, there’s a growing number of down payment assistance programs available nationwide to help relieve this pressure. A report from Down Payment Resource says:

“Our Q3 2022 HPI report revealed a 1.6% uptick in the number of homebuyer assistance programs available to help people finance homes, raising the number of programs to 2,309, a net increase of 36 over the previous quarter.”

Additionally, as the housing market cools, buyers are regaining some negotiation power and more sellers are willing to work with buyers to help with closing costs.  Understanding what’s out there and the options available may help you achieve your dream of homeownership faster than you thought possible.

Bottom Line

If you’re serious about becoming a homeowner, know it may be more in reach than you think. Lean on trusted professionals to help you overcome challenges and prioritize your next steps.

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Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time

Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time | Simplifying The Market

This past year, rising mortgage rates have slowed the red-hot housing market. Over the past nine months, we’ve seen fewer homes sold than the previous month as home price growth has slowed. All of this is due to the fact that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has doubled this year, severely limiting homebuying power for consumers. And, this month, the average rate for financing a home briefly rose over 7% before coming back down into the high 6% range. But we’re starting to see a hint of what mortgage interest rates could look like next year.

Inflation Is the Enemy of Long-Term Interest Rates

As long as inflation is high, we’ll see higher mortgage rates. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen indications that inflation may be cooling, giving us a glimpse into what may happen in the future. The mortgage market is eagerly awaiting positive news on inflation. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, says:

The housing market is expected to face continued uncertainty heading into 2023 as consumers, financial markets, and policymakers work through their respective challenges in today’s economy. . . . we are watching for any additional stability in the MBS market, signs of cooling inflation, and/or less aggressive Federal Reserve action to give us confidence that mortgage rates are past their peak.”

What Does This Mean for the Future of Mortgage Rates?

As we get through the inflation battle and start to see that coming down, we should expect mortgage rates to follow. We’ve seen nods of this over the past couple of weeks. As the Federal Reserve works to bring inflation down, mortgage rates will come down as well. Bill McBride from Calculated Risk says:

My current view is inflation will ease quicker than the Fed currently expects.”

As we look toward next year, we certainly hope he’s right.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates will come down – it’s just a matter of time. The hope is we continue to see more positive news on inflation, and that’ll bring mortgage rates down. This will give prospective homebuyers more buying power and lead to more homeowners throughout the country.

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VA Loans: Making Homes for the Brave Achievable [INFOGRAPHIC]

VA Loans: Making Homes for the Brave Achievable [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

VA Loans: Making Homes for the Brave Achievable [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • VA Loans can help make homeownership possible for those who have served our country.
  • These loans offer great benefits for eligible individuals and can help them buy a VA-approved house or condo, build a new home, or make improvements to their house.
  • Homeownership is the American Dream. One way we can honor and thank our veterans is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans.
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VA Loans Can Help Veterans Achieve Their Dream of Homeownership

VA Loans Can Help Veterans Achieve Their Dream of Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

For over 78 years, Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans have provided millions of veterans with the opportunity to purchase homes of their own. If you or a loved one have served, it’s important to understand this program and its benefits.

Here are some things you should know about VA loans before you start the homebuying process.

What Are VA Loans?

VA home loans provide a pathway to homeownership for those who have served our nation. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs describes the program like this:

“VA helps Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. As part of our mission to serve you, we provide a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.”

Top Benefits of the VA Home Loan Program

In addition to helping eligible buyers achieve their homeownership dreams, VA loans have several other great benefits for buyers who qualify. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs:

  • Qualified borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment.
  • Many other loans with down payments under 20% require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). VA Loans do not require PMI, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.
  • VA-Backed Loans often offer competitive terms and mortgage interest rates.

A recent article from Veterans United sums up just how impactful this loan option can be:

“For the vast majority of military borrowers, VA loans represent the most powerful lending program on the market. These flexible, $0-down payment mortgages have helped more than 24 million service members become homeowners since 1944.”

John Bell, Acting Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Guaranty Service, also explains why this program is so powerful:

“It provides early ownership for many people that would not have that opportunity to begin with. Since there’s no down payment, it allows people to hold their wealth and it gives them the ability to have long term financial security by being able to own a house and let that equity grow.”

Bottom Line

Homeownership is the American Dream. Our veterans sacrifice so much in service of our nation, and one way we can honor and thank them is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans. Thank you for your service.

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Taking the Fear out of Saving for a Home

Taking the Fear out of Saving for a Home | Simplifying The Market

If you’re planning to buy a home, knowing what to budget for and how to save may sound scary at first. But it doesn’t have to be. One way to take the fear out of budgeting is understanding some of the costs you might encounter.  And to do that, turn to trusted real estate professionals. They can help you plan your finances and prepare your budget.

Here are just a few costs experts say you can expect.

1. Down Payment

Saving for your down payment is likely top of mind as you set out to buy a home. But do you know how much you’ll need to save? While each situation is different, there’s a common misconception that putting 20% down toward your purchase is required. An article from the Mortgage Reports explains why that’s not always the case:

“The idea that you have to put 20% down on a house is a myth. . . . The right amount depends on your current savings and your home buying goals.”

To understand your options, partner with a trusted real estate professional to go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires.

2. Closing Costs

Make sure you also budget for closing costs, which are a collection of fees and payments made to the various people involved in your transaction. Bankrate explains:

Closing costs are the fees you pay when finalizing a real estate transaction, whether you’re refinancing a mortgage or buying a new home. These costs can amount to 2 to 5 percent of the mortgage so it’s important to be financially prepared for this expense.”

The best way to understand what you’ll need at the closing table is to work with a trusted lender. They can provide you with answers to the questions you might have.

3. Earnest Money Deposit

If you want to cover all your bases, you can also consider saving for an earnest money deposit (EMD). An EMD is money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. According to realtor.com, it’s usually between 1% and 2% of the total home price.

This deposit works like a credit. It’s not an added expense – it’s paying a portion of your costs upfront. You’re using some of the money you already saved for your purchase to show the seller you’re committed and serious about their house. Realtor.com describes how it works as part of your sale:

It tells the real estate seller you’re in earnest as a buyer, . . . . Assuming that all goes well and the buyer’s good-faith offer is accepted by the seller, the earnest money funds go toward the down payment and closing costs. In effect, earnest money is just paying more of the down payment and closing costs upfront.”

Keep in mind, an EMD isn’t required, and it doesn’t guarantee your offer will be accepted. It’s important to work with a real estate advisor to understand what’s best for your situation and any specific requirements in your area. They’ll help you determine what moves you should make in the homebuying process to have the greatest success.

Bottom Line

Budgeting for your home purchase doesn’t have to be scary. Let’s connect so you’ll have an expert on your side to answer any questions you have along the way.

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Saving for a Down Payment? Here’s What You Should Know.

Saving for a Down Payment? Here’s What You Should Know. | Simplifying The Market

As you set out to buy a home, saving for a down payment is likely top of mind. But you may still have questions about the process, including how much to save and where to start.

If that sounds like you, your down payment could be more in reach than you originally thought. Here’s why.

The 20% Down Payment Myth

If you believe you have to put 20% down on a home, you may have based your goal on a common misconception. Freddie Mac explains:

“. . . nearly a third of prospective homebuyers think they need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home. This myth remains one of the largest perceived barriers to achieving homeownership.”

Unless it’s specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. According to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. There are even loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5%, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

This is good news for you because it means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize. For more information, turn to a trusted lender.

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Be a Game Changer

A professional will be able to show you other options that could help you get closer to your down payment goal. According to latest Homeownership Program Index from downpaymentresource.com, there are over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and the majority are intended to help with down payments.

A recent article explains why programs like these are helpful:

These resources can immediately build your home buying power and help you take action sooner than you thought possible.”

And if you’re wondering if you have to be a first-time buyer to qualify for these programs, that’s not always the case. According to an article from downpaymentresource.com:

“It is a common misconception that homebuyer assistance is only available to first-time homebuyers, however, 38% of homebuyer assistance programs in Q1 2022 did not have a first-time homebuyer requirement.

There are also location and profession-based programs you could qualify for as well.

Bottom Line

Saving for your down payment is an important first step on your homebuying journey. Let’s connect today and make sure you have a trusted lender to help explore your options.

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Why Today’s Housing Inventory Proves the Market Isn’t Headed for a Crash

Why Today’s Housing Inventory Proves the Market Isn’t Headed for a Crash | Simplifying The Market

Whether or not you owned a home in 2008, you likely remember the housing crash that took place back then. And news about an economic slowdown happening today may bring all those concerns back to the surface. While those feelings are understandable, data can help reassure you the situation today is nothing like it was in 2008.

One of the key reasons why the market won’t crash this time is the current undersupply of inventory. Housing supply comes from three key places:

  • Current homeowners putting their homes up for sale
  • Newly built homes coming onto the market
  • Distressed properties (short sales or foreclosures)

For the market to crash, you’d have to make a case for an oversupply of inventory headed to the market, and the numbers just don’t support that. So, here’s a deeper look at where inventory is coming from today to help prove why the housing market isn’t headed for a crash.

Current Homeowners Putting Their Homes Up for Sale

Even though housing supply is increasing this year, there’s still a limited number of existing homes available. The graph below helps illustrate this point. Based on the latest weekly data, inventory is up 27.8% compared to the same week last year (shown in blue). But compared to the same week in 2019 (shown in the larger red bar), it’s still down by 42.6%.

Why Today’s Housing Inventory Proves the Market Isn’t Headed for a Crash | Simplifying The Market

So, what does this mean? Inventory is still historically low. There simply aren’t enough homes on the market to cause prices to crash. There would need to be a flood of people getting ready to sell their houses in order to tip the scales toward a buyers’ market. And that level of activity simply isn’t there.

Newly Built Homes Coming onto the Market

There’s also a lot of talk about what’s happening with newly built homes today, and that may make you wonder if we’re overbuilding. But home builders are actually slowing down their production right now. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, notes:

“It has become a very competitive market for builders where they are trying to offload any standing inventory.”

To avoid repeating the overbuilding that happened leading up to the housing crisis, builders are reacting to higher mortgage rates and softening buyer demand by slowing down their work. It’s a sign they’re being intentional about not overbuilding homes like they did during the bubble.

And according to the latest data from the U.S. Census, at today’s current pace, we’re headed to build a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.4 million homes this year. While this will add more inventory to the market, it’s not on pace to create an oversupply because builders today are more cautious than the last time when they built more homes than the market could absorb.

Distressed Properties (Short Sales or Foreclosures)

The last place inventory can come from is distressed properties, including short sales and foreclosures. Back in the housing crisis, there was a flood of foreclosures due to lending standards that allowed many people to secure a home loan they couldn’t truly afford. Today, lending standards are much tighter, resulting in more qualified buyers and far fewer foreclosures. The graph below uses data from ATTOM Data Solutions on properties with foreclosure filings to help paint the picture of how things have changed since the crash:

Why Today’s Housing Inventory Proves the Market Isn’t Headed for a Crash | Simplifying The Market

This graph shows how in the time around the housing crash there were over one million foreclosure filings per year. As lending standards tightened since then, the activity started to decline. And in 2020 and 2021, the forbearance program was a further aid to help prevent a repeat of the wave of foreclosures we saw back around 2008.

That program was a game changer, giving homeowners options for things like loan deferrals and modifications they didn’t have before. And data on the success of that program shows four out of every five homeowners coming out of forbearance are either paid in full or have worked out a repayment plan to avoid foreclosure. These are a few of the biggest reasons there won’t be a wave of foreclosures coming to the market.

Bottom Line

Although housing supply is growing this year, the market certainly isn’t anywhere near the inventory levels that would cause prices to drop significantly. That’s why inventory tells us the housing market won’t crash.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters