Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home?

Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home? | Simplifying The Market

There’s a common misconception that, as a homebuyer, you need to come up with 20% of the total sale price for your down payment. In fact, a recent survey by Lending Tree asks what is keeping consumers from purchasing a home. For over half of those surveyed, the ability to afford a down payment is the biggest hurdle.

That may be because those individuals assume a 20% down payment is necessary. While putting more money down if you’re able can benefit buyers, putting 20% down is not mandatory. As Freddie Mac puts it:

The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

If saving that much money sounds overwhelming, you might be ready to give up on the dream of homeownership before you even begin – but you don’t have to. According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. It may sound surprising, but today’s average down payment is only 12%. That number is even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose average down payment is only 7%.

Based on the Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from NAR, the graph below shows an even closer look at the down payment percentage various age groups pay:Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home? | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph shows, the only groups who put 20% or more down on average are older homebuyers who likely can use the sale of an existing home to fuel a larger down payment on their next home.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re a prospective homebuyer, it’s important to know you don’t have to put the full 20% down. And while saving for any down payment amount may feel like a challenge, keep in mind there are programs for qualified buyers that allow them to purchase a home with a down payment as low as 3.5%. There are also options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, you do need to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like downpaymentresource.com. Be sure to also work with a real estate advisor from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the myth of the 20% down payment halt your homebuying process before it begins. If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to start the conversation and explore your options.

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Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC]

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • When it comes to the current housing market, there are multiple misconceptions – from what the current supply of available homes looks like to how much houses are selling for.
  • It takes professionals who study expert opinions and data to truly understand the real estate market and separate fact from fiction.
  • Trust the pros. If you want to understand why it’s still a good time to buy, let’s connect today.
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What You Can Do Right Now To Prepare for Homeownership

What You Can Do Right Now To Prepare for Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

As rent prices continue to soar, many renters want to know what they can do to get ready to buy their first home. According to recent data from ApartmentList.com:

The first half of 2021 has seen the fastest growth in rent prices since the start of our estimates in 2017. Our national rent index has increased by 11.4 percent since January . . . .”

Those rising rental costs may make it seem impossible to prepare for homeownership if you’re a renter. But the truth is, there are ways you can – and should – prepare to purchase your first home. Here’s some expert advice on what to do if you’re ready to learn more about how to escape rising rents.

Start Saving – Even Small Amounts – Now

Experts agree, setting aside what you can – even smaller amounts of money – into a dedicated savings account is a great starting point when it comes to saving for a down payment. As Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez, Founder of Zero-Based Budget Coaching LLC, says:

“I recommend saving for a home in a ‘sinking fund’ . . . . This is a savings account separate from your emergency fund that you use to save for a short or mid-term expense.

Zuniga-Sanchez adds saving in smaller increments can help make a large goal – such as saving for a down payment –achievable:

“Breaking up your goals into smaller bite-sized pieces by saving incrementally can make a large daunting number more manageable.”

Assess Your Finances and Work on Your Credit

Another tip experts recommend: take a look at your overall finances and credit score and find ways to reduce your debt. According to the HUD, the average credit score of first-time homebuyers is 716. If you’re not sure what your credit score is, there are numerous online tools that can help you check. If your score is below that average, don’t fret. Remember that an average means there are homeowners with credit scores both above and below that threshold.

If you find out your score is below the average, there are several ways to improve your credit before you apply for a loan. HUD recommends reducing your debt as much as you can, paying your bills on time, and using your credit card responsibly.

Start the Conversation with Your Advisor Today

Finally, it’s important to talk to someone who understands the market and what it takes to become a first-time homebuyer. That’s where we come in. A trusted advisor can help you navigate your specific market and talk you through all the available options. Having the right network of real estate and lending professionals in your corner can help you plan for the homebuying process as well as determine what you can afford and how you can get pre-approved when you’re ready.

Most importantly, we can help you understand how homeownership is achievable. As Lauren Bringle, Accredited Financial Advisor with Self Financial, says:

“Don’t write home ownership off just because you have a low income . . . . With the right tools, resources and assistance, you could still achieve your dream.”

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to be a homeowner one day, the best thing you can do is start preparing now. Even if you don’t think you’ll purchase for a few years, let’s connect today to discuss the process and to set you up for success on your journey to homeownership.

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What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap

What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About Appraisal Gaps | Simplifying The Market

It’s economy 101 – when supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally rise. That’s what’s happening in today’s housing market. Home prices are appreciating at near-historic rates, and that’s creating some challenges when it comes to home appraisals.

In recent months, it’s become increasingly common for an appraisal to come in below the contract price on the house. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser for CoreLogic, explains it like this:

Recently, we observed buyers paying prices above listing price and higher than the market data available to appraisers can support. This difference is known as ‘the appraisal gap . . . .’”

Why does an appraisal gap happen?

Basically, with the heightened buyer demand, purchasers are often willing to pay over asking to secure the home of their dreams. If you’ve ever toured a house you’ve fallen in love with, you understand. Once you start to picture yourself and your furniture in the rooms, you want to do everything you can to land the property, including putting in a high offer to try to beat out other would-be buyers.

When the appraiser comes in, they look at things a bit more objectively. Their job is to assess the inherent value of the home, so they’re going to study the facts. Dustin Harris, Appraiser Coach, drives this point home:

It’s important for everyone to understand that the appraiser’s job in the end is to remain that unbiased third party, to truly tell the client what that home is worth in the current market, regardless of what decisions have been made on the price side of things.”

In simple terms, while homebuyers may be willing to pay more, appraisers are there to assess the market value of the home. Their goal is to make sure the lender isn’t loaning more money than the home is worth. It’s objective, rather than emotional.

In a highly competitive market like today’s, having a discrepancy between the two numbers isn’t unusual. Here’s a look at the increasing rate of appraisal gaps, according to data from  CoreLogic (see graph below):What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap | Simplifying The Market

What does this mean for you?

Ultimately, knowledge is power. The best thing you can do is understand an appraisal gap may impact your transaction if you’re buying or selling. If you do encounter an appraisal below your contract price, know that in today’s sellers’ market, the most common approach is for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference in price. Buyers, be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Above all else, lean on your real estate agent. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, your trusted advisor is your ally if you come up against an appraisal gap. We’ll help you understand your options and handle any additional negotiations that need to happen.

Bottom Line

In today’s real estate market, it’s important to stay informed on the latest trends. Let’s connect so you have an ally to help you navigate an appraisal gap to get the best possible outcome.

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More Young People Are Buying Homes

More Young People Are Buying Homes | Simplifying The Market

There’s a common misconception that younger generations aren’t interested in homeownership. Many people point to the fact that millennials put off purchasing their first home as a reason for this belief.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American, explains why millennials have put off certain milestones linked to homeownership. Those delays led to their homeownership rates trailing slightly behind older generations:

Historically, millennials have delayed the critical lifestyle choices often linked to buying a first home, including getting married and having children, in order to further their education. This is clear in cross-generational comparisons of homeownership rates which show millennials lagging their generational predecessors.”

So, it’s partially true that some millennials have waited on homeownership to focus on other things in their lives – and that’s impacting certain housing market trends.

Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates the average age of a first-time homebuyer is higher today than it’s been over the past 40 years. As the graph below shows, homebuyers today are purchasing their first home an average of 4 years later than people in the 1980s and early 1990s:More Young People Are Buying Homes | Simplifying The MarketBut just because millennials are hitting certain milestones later in life doesn’t mean they’re not interested in becoming homeowners. The recent U.S. Census reveals a significant increase in homeownership rates for millennials and other young homebuyers.More Young People Are Buying Homes | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph above shows, millennials are entering the market in full force, and their share of the market is growing. Based on the data, the belief that younger generations don’t want to buy homes is a misconception. In fact, the recent Capital Market Outlook report from Merrill-Lynch further drives home this point, as it specifically mentions the effect millennials are having on demand:

“Demand is very strong because the biggest demographic cohort in history is moving through the household-formation and peak home-buying stages of its life cycle.”

Kushi is following the trend of millennial homeownership and puts it more simply, saying:

“. . . it’s clear that younger households (millennials!) are driving homeownership growth.”

As the largest generation, millennials’ impact on the market is growing as more and more people from that generation reach homebuying age – and Generation Z isn’t far behind, either. That means younger generations will likely continue to drive demand in the housing market for years to come.

Bottom Line

If you’re a member of a younger generation and interested in purchasing a home, you’re not alone. Many of your peers are on their path to homeownership, too. Let’s connect today and discuss what you can do to accomplish your homebuying goals.

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Are Houses Less Affordable Than They Were in Past Decades?

Are Houses Less Affordable Than They Were in Past Decades? | Simplifying The Market

There are many headlines about how housing affordability is declining. The headlines are correct: it’s less affordable to purchase a home today than it was a year ago. However, it’s important to give this trend context. Is it less expensive to buy a house today than it was in 2005? What about 1995? What happens if we go all the way back to 1985? Or even 1975?

Obviously, the price of a home has appreciated dramatically over the last 45 years. So have the prices of milk, bread, and just about every other consumable. Prices rise over time – we know it as inflation.

However, when we look at housing, price is just one component that makes up the monthly cost of the home. Another key factor is the mortgage rate at the time of purchase.

Let’s look back at the cost of a home over the last five decades and adjust it for inflation by converting that cost to 2021 dollars. Here’s the methodology for each data point of the table below:

  • Mortgage Amount: Take the median sales price at the end of the second quarter of each year as reported by the Fed and assume that the buyer made a 10% down payment.
  • Mortgage Rate: Look at the monthly 30-year fixed rate for June of that year as reported by Freddie Mac.
  • P&I: Use a mortgage calculator to determine the monthly principal and interest on the loan.
  • In 2021 Dollars: Use an inflation calculator to determine what each payment would be when adjusted for inflation. Green means the homes were less expensive than today. Red means they were more expensive.

Are Houses Less Affordable Than They Were in Past Decades? | Simplifying The MarketAs the chart shows, when adjusted for inflation, there were only two times in the last 45 years that it was less expensive to own a home than it is today.

  1. Last year: Prices saw strong appreciation over the last year and mortgage rates have remained relatively flat. Therefore, affordability weakened.
  2. 2010: Home values plummeted after the housing crash 15 years ago. One-third of all sales were distressed properties (foreclosures or short sales). They sold at major discounts and negatively impacted the value of surrounding homes – of course homes were more affordable then.

At every other point, even in 1975, it was more expensive to buy a home than it is today.

Bottom Line

If you want to buy a home, don’t let the headlines about affordability discourage you. You can’t get the deal your friend got last year, but you will get a better deal than your parents did 20 years ago and your grandparents did 40 years ago.

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Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium.

Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium. | Simplifying The Market

It’s no secret that one of the top stories in today’s real estate market is low housing supply and high buyer demand. If you’re a first-time buyer looking for a starter home or are someone who’s interested in downsizing, it may be worth considering a condominium (condo) as a worthwhile option.

In fact, trends indicate condos are gaining popularity among buyers. In the latest Existing Homes Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the data shows condo sales rising throughout the first half of this year (see graph below):Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium. | Simplifying The MarketThere are a few reasons more and more people are opting to buy condos – the benefits of condo life can be quite compelling. Let’s explore the main perks to find out if a condo is a good fit for you.

Affordability

According to the NAR report, the median sales price of a condo is roughly $59,000 less than the median price of a single-family detached home (see graph below). This makes condos a great option for first-time homebuyers, those with limited down payment savings, or those looking to save money by downsizing.Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium. | Simplifying The Market

Maintenance

A recent article from BankRate adds low maintenance as another perk of a condo lifestyle. Generally, exterior maintenance for condos is handled by a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). This can include things like landscaping and upholding a certain standard of cleanliness and condition for walkways, siding, and roofs. If you’re looking for a lower-maintenance option or see the appeal in being hands-off with upkeep, condos may be a good choice for you. With exterior maintenance off your plate, you’ll have more time for yourself and your hobbies.

Amenities

You can use that free time to enjoy some of the value-adding features your condo community may have, which could include dog parks, pools, a rentable clubhouse and grilling area for events, and more. If being able to host or attend community social outings is important to you, condos may give you more opportunities to enjoy the company of your neighbors. As a bonus, some condos even have gyms and on-site security teams.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. Condos are great options that often come with various features and benefits that may be important for your lifestyle. Fannie Mae sums up the appeal nicely:

Condominiums, or condos, can be great alternatives to detached homes. City dwellers, singles, couples, seniors, and many others may find condos that suit their needs and budgets. Others may simply prefer low-maintenance living. Buyers who feel ‘priced out’ of homes may discover condos offer an affordable homeownership alternative.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a home, it may be time to consider a condo as an option. Let’s connect to explore if one would be a good fit for your homeownership needs.

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Surprising Shift Favors Homeowners: Buyers Now Prefer Existing Homes

Surprising Shift Favors Homeowners: Buyers Now Prefer Existing Homes | Simplifying The Market

In April, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) posted an article, Home Buyers’ Preferences Shift Towards New Construction, which reported:

60% of people who were looking to buy a home in 2020 said they’d prefer new construction to an existing home.

However, it seems buyers are now shifting their preferences back to existing homes.

The latest Consumer Confidence Survey reveals the percentage of Americans planning to buy a home in the next six months is virtually the same as it was back in March. However, the percentage that plan to buy a newly constructed home is lower for that same period.

NAHB confirms this sentiment in their latest Housing Trends Report. The organization explains that existing homes are now the top preference among today’s buyers. Here’s a breakdown of those findings:Surprising Shift Favors Homeowners: Buyers Now Prefer Existing Homes | Simplifying The Market

Why the shift?

There are several reasons why buyer preference is shifting. Here are two that impact purchasers looking to move in now:

  • The process may move faster. Builders may not be able to guarantee when the house will be complete and ready for move-in due to supply chain challenges with materials like lumber and appliances. If you buy an existing home, not only is it ready, it also likely has a refrigerator, range, and other necessary home appliances already.
  • There are no unexpected costs during the buying process. With the price of land, labor, and lumber being so volatile, many builders are including an escalation clause in the price negotiation to cover rising expenses. With an existing home, the final price you will pay is negotiated upfront.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, your house is more attractive to a greater number of buyers as compared to earlier in the year. This might be the time for us to connect to discuss the possibility.

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Waiting To Buy a Home Could Cost You [INFOGRAPHIC]

Waiting To Buy a Home Could Cost You [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Waiting To Buy a Home Could Cost You [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • If you’re thinking of buying a home but wondering if waiting a few years will save you in the long run, think again.
  • The longer the wait, the more you’ll pay, especially when mortgage rates and home prices rise. Even the slightest change in the mortgage rate can have a big impact on your buying power no matter your price point.
  • Don’t assume waiting will save you money. Let’s connect to set the ball into motion today while mortgage rates are hovering near historic lows.
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What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise

What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | Simplifying The Market

In today’s real estate market, mortgage interest rates are near record lows. If you’ve been in your current home for several years and haven’t refinanced lately, there’s a good chance you have a mortgage with an interest rate higher than today’s average. Here are some options you should consider if you want to take advantage of today’s current low rates before they rise.

Sell and Move Up (or Downsize)

Many of today’s homeowners are rethinking what they need in a home and redefining what their dream home means. For some, continued remote work is bringing about the need for additional space. For others, moving to a lower cost-of-living area or downsizing may be great options. If you’re considering either of these, there may not be a better time to move. Here’s why.

The chart below shows average mortgage rates by decade compared to where they are today:What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | Simplifying The MarketToday’s rates are below 3%, but experts forecast rates to rise over the next few years.

If the interest rate on your current mortgage is higher than today’s average, take advantage of this opportunity by making a move and securing a lower rate. Lower rates mean you may be able to get more house for your money and still have a lower monthly mortgage payment than you might expect.

Waiting, however, might mean you miss out on this historic opportunity. Below is a chart showing how your monthly payment will change if you buy a home as mortgage rates increase:What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | Simplifying The Market

Breaking It All Down:

Using the chart above, let’s look at the breakdown of a $300,000 mortgage:

  • When mortgage rates rise, so does the monthly payment you can secure.
  • Even the smallest increase in rates can make a difference in your monthly mortgage payment.
  • As interest rates rise, you’ll need to look at a lower-priced home to try and keep the same target monthly payment, meaning you may end up with less home for your money.

No matter what, whether you’re looking to make a move up or downsize to a home that better suits your needs, now is the time. Even a small change in interest rates can have a big impact on your purchasing power.

Refinance

If making a move right now still doesn’t feel right for you, consider refinancing. With the current low mortgage rates, refinancing is a great option if you’re looking to lower your monthly payments and stay in your current home.

Bottom Line

Take advantage of today’s low rates before they begin to rise. Whether you’re thinking about moving up, downsizing, or refinancing, let’s connect today to discuss which option is best for you.

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