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What You Need To Know About Today’s Down Payment Programs

What You Need To Know About Today’s Down Payment Programs Simplifying The Market

There's no denying it's gotten more challenging to buy a home, especially with today's mortgage rates and home price appreciation. And that may be one of the big reasons you’re eager to look into grants and assistance programs to see if there’s anything you qualify for that can help. But unfortunately, many homebuyers feel like they don’t know where to start. 

A recent Bank of America Institute study asked prospective buyers where they lack confidence in the process and need more information. And this is what topped the list:

53% said they need help understanding homebuying grant programs.

So, here’s some information that can help you close that gap.

What Is Down Payment Assistance?

As the Mortgage Reports explains:

“Down payment assistance (DPA) programs offer loans and grants that can cover part or all of a home buyer’s down payment and closing costs. More than 2,000 of these programs are available nationwide. . . DPA programs vary by location, but many home buyers could be in line for thousands of dollars in down payment assistance if they qualify.”

And here’s some more good news. On top of all of these programs, you probably don’t need to save as much for your down payment as you think. Contrary to what you may have heard, typically you don’t have to put 20% down unless it’s specified by your loan type or lender. So, you likely don’t need to save as much upfront, and there are programs designed to make your down payment more achievable. Sounds like a win-win.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

It’s also worth mentioning, that it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for many of these programs. That means whether you’re looking to buy your first house or your fifth, there could be an option for you. As Down Payment Resource notes:

You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 39% of all [homeownership] programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

Additional Down Payment Resources That Can Help

Here are a few of the down payment assistance programs that are helping many buyers achieve their dream of homeownership, even now:

  • Teacher Next Door is designed to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and Veterans reach their down payment goals.
  • Fannie Mae provides down payment assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers living in majority-Latino communities.
  • Freddie Mac also has options designed specifically for homebuyers with modest credit scores and limited funds for a down payment.
  • The 3By30 program lays out actionable strategies to add 3 million new Black homeowners by 2030. These programs offer valuable resources for potential buyers, making it easier to secure down payments and realize their dream of homeownership.
  • For Native Americans, Down Payment Resource highlights 42 U.S. homebuyer assistance programs across 14 states that ease the path to homeownership by providing support with down payments and other associated costs.

If you want more information on any of these, the best place to start is by contacting a trusted real estate professional.

They’ll be able to share more details about what may be available, including any other programs designed to serve specific professions or communities. And even if you don’t qualify for these types of programs, they can help see if there are any other federal, state, and local options available you should look into. 

Bottom Line

Affordability is still a challenge, so if you’re looking to buy, you’re going to want to make sure you’re taking advantage of any and all resources available.

The best way to find out what’s out there is to connect with a team of real estate professionals, including a trusted lender and a local agent. 

Do Elections Impact the Housing Market?

Do Elections Impact the Housing Market? Simplifying The Market

The 2024 Presidential election is just months away. As someone who’s thinking about potentially buying or selling a home, you’re probably curious about what effect, if any, elections have on the housing market.

It’s a great question because buying or selling a home is a major decision, and it’s natural to wonder how such a major event might impact your plans.

Historically, Presidential elections have only had a small, temporary impact on the housing market. Here’s the latest on exactly what’s happened to home sales, prices, and mortgage rates throughout those time periods.

Home Sales

During the month of November, in years when the Presidential election takes place, there’s typically a slight slowdown in home sales. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, explains:

“Usually, home sales are unchanged compared to a non-election year with the exception being November. In an election year, November is slower than normal.

This is mostly because some people feel uncertain and hesitant about making big decisions during such a pivotal time. However, it’s important to know this slowdown is temporary. Historically, home sales bounce back in December and continue to rise the following year.

In fact, data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows after nine of the last 11 Presidential elections, home sales went up the next year (see graph below): No Caption Received


The graph shows annual home sales going back to 1978. Each year with a Presidential election is noted in blue. The year immediately after each election is green if existing home sales rose that year. The two orange bars represent the only years when home sales decreased after an election.

Home Prices

What about home prices? Do they drop during election years? Not typically. As residential appraiser and housing analyst Ryan Lundquist puts it:

“An election year doesn’t alter the price trend that is already happening in the market.”

Home prices are pretty resilient. They generally rise year-over-year, regardless of elections. The latest data from NAR shows after seven of the last eight Presidential elections, home prices increased the following year (see graph below): No Caption Received


Just like the previous graph, this shows election years in blue. The only year when prices declined after an election is in orange. That was during the housing market crash, which was far from a typical year. Today’s market is different than it was back then.

All the green bars represent when prices rose the following year. So, if you're worried about your home losing value because of an election, you can rest easy knowing prices rise after most Presidential elections.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are important because they affect how much your monthly payment will be when you buy a home. Looking at the last 11 Presidential election years, data from Freddie Mac shows mortgage rates decreased from July to November in eight of them (see chart below): No Caption Received


Most forecasts expect mortgage rates to ease slightly throughout the remainder of the year. If they’re right, this year will follow the trend of declining rates leading up to most previous elections. And if you’re looking to buy a home in the coming months, this could be good news, as lower rates could mean a lower monthly payment.

What This Means for You

So, what’s the big takeaway? While Presidential elections do have some impact on the housing market, the effects are usually small and temporary. As Lisa Sturtevant, Chief Economist at Bright MLS, says:

“Historically, the housing market doesn’t tend to look very different in presidential election years compared to other years.”

For most buyers and sellers, elections don’t have a major impact on their plans.

Bottom Line

While it’s natural to feel a bit uncertain during an election year, history shows the housing market remains strong and resilient. If you have questions, reach out to a local real estate agent. They’re here to help you navigate the market, election year or not.

Real Estate Is Still the Best Long-Term Investment [INFOGRAPHIC]

Real Estate Is Still the Best Long-Term Investment [INFOGRAPHIC] Simplifying The Market

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Some Highlights

  • According to a recent poll from Gallup, real estate has been voted the best long-term investment for twelve straight years.
  • That’s because a home is so much more just than a roof over your head. It’s also an asset that typically grows in value over time. 
  • If you’ve been debating if it makes more sense to rent or buy, connect with a real estate agent to talk about why homeownership can be a better bet in the long run. 

Homebuilders Aren’t Overbuilding, They’re Catching Up

Homebuilders Aren’t Overbuilding, They’re Catching Up Simplifying The Market

You may have heard that there are more brand-new homes available right now than the norm. Today, about one in three homes on the market are newly built. And if you’re wondering what that means for the housing market and for your own move, here’s what you need to know.

Why This Isn’t Like 2008

People remember what happened to the housing market back in 2008. And one of the factors that contributed to that crash was that there were too many homes for sale. While only part of the oversupply back then came from builders, the lasting impact is that some people still feel uneasy when they hear new home construction has ramped up.

Even though the supply of new homes has grown this year, the data shows there’s no need to worry. Builders aren’t overbuilding, they’re just catching up. 

The graph below uses data from the Census to show the number of new houses built over the last 52 years. Following the crash in 2008, there was a long period of underbuilding (shown in red). And it wasn’t until recently that we finally met the long-term average for how many homes are built in a typical year. No Caption Received


This shows, that even with the increase in new builds we’ve seen lately, there won’t suddenly be an oversupply of homes for sale. There’s too much of a gap to make up after over a decade of underbuilding. And if you’re still worried builders are overdoing it, here’s something else that should be reassuring. 

New Home Construction May Be at Its Peak for the Year

The latest data from the Census on housing starts (homes where builders just broke ground) and permits (homes where builders can start development soon) shows builders are slowing down their pace right now. Why is that?

They’re responding to still high mortgage rates and how those are impacting buyer demand. Basically, they’re pulling back appropriately in response to what’s happening in the market. As an article from HousingWire explains

“Even with a massive housing shortage across the nation, homebuilders are completing their pipelines and not seeking as many permits to construct new single-family houses.” 

Builders remember what happened when they overbuilt in the crash, and they’re looking to avoid a repeat of that. So, they’re being mindful and pulling back a bit.

You May Have More Options Now Versus Later

If you’re considering a newly built home, here’s how this impacts you. With builders seeking fewer permits and not breaking ground on as many new homes, we may be at the peak of new home construction for the year. This doesn’t mean new home construction is screeching to a stop – just that the pace is slowing down now, and that’ll impact what comes to market later this year. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“Given the recent declines in housing starts, home completions will steadily show declines in about six months.”

So, if you’re ready and able to buy now, you may find you’ll have more newly built options to choose from now versus later on. This may be enough reason to kick off your search.

Just be sure to work with a local real estate agent you know and trust throughout the process. An agent will have valuable insight into builder reputations and other key factors specific to your market. And if there isn’t much new construction near you, they’ll be able to point you toward a nearby area where there is.

Bottom Line

While it’s true new home construction is a bigger segment of the market than the norm, that’s not a bad thing. Builders aren’t overbuilding, and they’re responding to market signals to avoid repeating the mistakes that were made in 2008.

 

If you want to buy now while new home options may be at their peak, reach out to a local real estate agent. 

Home Prices Aren’t Declining, But Headlines Might Make You Think They Are

Home Prices Aren’t Declining, But Headlines Might Make You Think They Are Simplifying The Market

If you’ve seen the news lately about home sellers slashing prices, it’s a great example of how headlines do more to terrify than clarify. Here’s what’s really happening with prices.

The bottom line is home prices are higher than they were a year ago at this time, and they’re expected to keep rising, just at a slower pace.

But a recent article from Redfin notes,

“Price Drops Hit Highest Level in 18 Months As High Rates Dampen Buyer Demand.”

And that might make you think prices are declining.

Now, while it’s true the latest report from Realtor.com also shows 16.6% of homes on the market had price reductions in May, which is up from 12.7% last May, that doesn’t mean overall home prices are falling.

The key is knowing the difference between the asking price and the sold price.

Understanding Asking Price vs. Sold Price

In essence, the asking price, also known as a listing price, is the amount a seller hopes to get for their home when they list it. In reality, sellers can’t just put any price tag on their house and expect it to sell for top dollar. Today’s buyers are savvy customers, and when they aren’t willing to pay a premium for a home because their budgets are strained by higher mortgage rates, sellers need to adjust. And that’s what’s happening right now.

Based on market factors and what offers that seller receives, that asking price can change. If a seller isn’t getting much foot traffic, you may see them revise the price and make an adjustment to reignite interest in the home – and sometimes that’s because they’ve overpriced it from the start. That’s where price reductions come in, and when you see “price drops” in a headline, it sounds like declining home prices.

Mike Simonsen, CEO and Founder of Altos Research, says:

“Not only is the share of homes with price cuts elevated compared to one year ago, but more price cuts are happening each week than last year.”

On the other hand, the final sold price is the amount a buyer actually pays when the transaction is complete.

Here’s the most important thing to note: Actual sold prices are still rising, and they’re expected to continue to do so at least over the next 5 years.

What Does This Mean for Home Prices?

So, while there's been an increase in price reductions recently, this doesn't mean overall home values are declining. Instead, it’s a sign that demand is moderating. And, as a result, sellers are adjusting their expectations to align with today's market reality.

Even with more price reductions, home values are still growing on an annual basis, as they do nearly every year in the housing market. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), home prices went up 6.6% over the last year (see below):No Caption Received


This map shows how prices rose just about everywhere in the country, indicating the market is not in decline.

So, while seller price reductions are often a leading indicator that prices may moderate in the months ahead, which experts have been saying for a while is expected to happen, they aren’t necessarily reason for alarm. The same article from Redfin also states:

“. . .those metrics suggest sale-price growth could soften in the coming months as persistently high mortgage rates turn off homebuyers. For now, the median-home sale price is up 4.3% year over year to another record high. . .”

And with inventory as tight as it is today, price moderation is much more likely in upcoming months than price declines.

Why This Is Good News for Buyers and Sellers

For buyers, more realistic asking prices mean a better chance of securing a home at a fair price. It also means you can enter the market with more confidence, knowing prices are stabilizing rather than continuing to skyrocket.

For sellers, understanding the need to adjust your asking price can lead to faster sales and fewer price negotiations. Setting a realistic price from the start can attract more serious buyers and lead to smoother transactions.

Bottom Line

While the uptick in price reductions might seem troubling, it’s not a cause for concern. It reflects a market adjusting to new conditions. Home prices are continuing to grow, just at a more moderate pace.

Savings Strategies Every First-Time Homebuyer Needs To Know

Savings Strategies Every First-Time Homebuyer Needs To Know Simplifying The Market

If homeownership is on your goal sheet for your future, you’re probably working on your savings. And a big priority is making sure you’ve got a plan in place for things like your closing costs, down payment, and more.

Here are a few strategies that can help speed up that process.

Budget and Track Your Expenses: To start, create a detailed budget that tracks the money you’ve got coming in and the money going out. This’ll give you a better look at your finances as a whole.

Cut Down on Unnecessary Spending: Now that you have your budget sheet done and you know how you’re spending your money, look for any line items that aren’t absolutely essential. If you cut down on those, you can re-allocate that cash toward buying a home. Even the little things can add up. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

“The majority of first-time buyers did make financial sacrifices to purchase a home. For those who did, the most common sacrifices buyers reported were cutting spending on luxury goods, entertainment, and clothes.”

Automate Your Savings: Once you know how much you want to set aside for your homebuying budget, look for ways to make it easy. If you have to transfer money manually, you may forget to do it. But getting some automatic transfers set up helps drive consistency and removes the temptation to spend it elsewhere. Realtor.com explains:

“If you’re struggling to put enough money away because of the constant temptations to blow your paycheck, consider automating the process. Ask your employer if you can have your paycheck deposited into multiple accounts—if so, instruct it to send a certain percentage of your salary directly into your savings account. Or go through your bank . . .”

Lean into Any Side Hustles You Have: Do you have a gig you do (or have done before) to net some extra cash? Taking on part-time work, freelance jobs, or picking up a side hustle can help give your savings a boost.

Put any Unexpected Cash To Good Use: If you get any sudden windfalls, like a tax refund, bonus, inheritance, or cash gift from family, put it toward your house fund.

By using these strategies and focusing on your savings over time, you can make sure you’re well on the path to having what you need to buy your first home. As Ramsey Solutions says:

“Budgeting shows your money who’s in charge (that’s you). It gives you the power to tell your money where to go instead of having to wonder where it went. It’s how you make any money goals happen—like saving for a down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you need more strategies for getting ready to buy, connect with a local real estate professional.

The Wealth-Building Power of Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Wealth-Building Power of Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] Simplifying The Market

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Some Highlights

  • If you’re trying to decide if buying a home is worth it, consider the long-term benefits, like building equity as home values grow over time.
  • According to the FHFA, home values have increased by 315.7% since 1991.
  • Home equity is one reason owning your own place can really pay off in the long run. When you're ready, talk with a local real estate professional.

The Sweet Spot for Buying Luxury Homes

The Sweet Spot for Buying Luxury Homes Simplifying The Market

If you’ve been looking for a home at the high end of your market, but haven’t found the right one, you may have put your search on hold. But according to recent data, now may be the time to jump back in. Here’s why.

There Are More Luxury Homes To Choose From

What’s considered the top-end of the market, or a luxury home, will always vary by location. But generally speaking, they’re homes that are valued in the top 5% of any given market. According to a recent report from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, the selection of luxury homes is increasing (see graph below):No Caption Received


As the graph shows, there are considerably more single-family luxury homes available now than there were a year ago. In fact, there are even more than there were just a month ago. This means you should have a wider variety of top-of-the-line homes to choose from, each with unique features and styles.

Whether you were searching for the latest design elements, like modern kitchens with chef-grade appliances, a breathtaking view, or integrated smart home technology, more luxury inventory means you should have an easier time finding one that matches your taste and lifestyle.

Rising Luxury Home Prices Can Help You Build Wealth

Another important factor to consider is that luxury home prices are on the rise. According to HousingWire, luxury home prices have increased by 8.7% over the past year. That’s why:

“People with the means to buy high-end homes are jumping in now because they feel confident prices will continue to rise . . . They’re ready to buy with more optimism and less apprehension.

This means buying before prices climb higher – and while more inventory is on the market – may be your sweet spot. Because home prices are rising, owning a home could help you build more generational wealth over time. On the other hand, if you wait to buy, you might end up paying more for the same home later on as luxury prices continue to rise.

Bottom Line

With growing inventory and rising prices, you have a greater selection of luxury homes to choose from and an opportunity in front of you. Want to see the higher-end homes that are available in our area? Connect with a local real estate agent today.

What To Expect if You Buy or Sell a Home This June

What To Expect if You Buy or Sell a Home This June Simplifying The Market

June is a busy month in the housing market because a lot of people buy and sell this time of year. So, if you’ve got a move on your mind and you’re looking to make it happen this month, here’s a snapshot of what you need to know to make sure you’re ready.

If You’re Buying This June

A lot of homebuyers with children like to move after one school year ends and before the next one begins. That’s one reason why late spring into summer is a popular time for homes to change hands. And whether that’s a motivator for you or not, it’s important to realize more buyers are going to be looking right now – and that means you’ll want to be ready for a bit more competition. But there is a silver lining to a move this time of year. This is also when more sellers will list – so you should find you have more options. As an article from Bankrate says:

Late spring and early summer are the busiest and most competitive time of year for the real estate market. There’s usually more inventory listed for sale than other times of year . . . This is a double-edged sword for a buyer, as you will be met with more opportunities but [also] much more competition.”

During this busy season, it’s extra important to work with a trusted real estate agent. Your agent will help you stay on top of the latest listings, share expertise on how to make a strong offer in a competitive market, and give you insight into things like what the home is actually worth so you can make an informed decision when you buy. As Forbes says:

Approaching the market confidently, armed with good information and grounded expectations will take you far. Don't let the hustle of the market convince you to buy something that’s not in your budget, or not right for your lifestyle.”

If You’re Selling This June

Because there are more buyers this time of year, you’re in a great spot as a seller. Many of those buyers are highly motivated to make their move happen before the next school year kicks off – so they’ll likely put in strong offers to try to make that possible. That means, if your house shows well and is listed at market value, you could see your house sell faster or for a higher price. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Warmer weather and the end of the school year encourage more people to buy and sell, respectively. Buyers are looking to move and settle before the new school year begins, contributing to increased competition and, consequently, higher prices.”

You want to be sure you’ve got a great agent on your side to help you with the contingencies on those offers and any negotiations that take place so you can pick the best offer. Make sure you go over closing dates with your agent. Buyers trying to time their move with the school year may need to delay a bit or move faster. This can depend on the school calendar where you live. As U.S. News Real Estate explains:

“ . . if your house goes under contract in early summer, the buyer may ask for a delay in closing or move-in until the school year finishes or their current home has sold. Alternatively, a buyer later in summer may be looking to close quickly and move in under a month. Remain flexible to keep the deal running smoothly, and your buyer may be willing to throw in concessions, like covering some of your closing costs or overlooking the old roof.”

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to make a move this June, chat with a real estate agent so you know what to expect and how to plan for current market conditions.

More Than a House: The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership

More Than a House: The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership Simplifying The Market

With all the headlines and talk about housing affordability, it can be tempting to get lost in the financial side of buying a home. That’s only natural as you think about the dollars and cents of it all.

And while you ultimately need to be able to afford a home you buy, don’t lose sight of why homeownership was so important to you in the first place. That’s because buying a home is so much more than just a financial transaction. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

“The benefits of purchasing and owning your place of residence are both financial and emotional – pride in homeownership and the feeling of security are huge intangible benefits.”

Here’s a look at just a few of those more emotional or lifestyle perks, to help anchor you to why homeownership is one of your goals.

A Sense of Satisfaction

Owning a home is often associated with better mental health and well-being. That’s probably because buying a home is a big milestone. And the sense of satisfaction and pride that comes with achieving that goal just feels good. A recent article from the Mortgage Reports says:

“By and large, homeownership brings more satisfaction than renting. . . Surveyees scored the overall happiness level of homeowners at 88% compared to 67% for renters.”

More Stability for Your Family

Another thing that may make homeowners feel more satisfied is that they’re finally able to put down roots. Think about it. If you’re used to moving each time your lease renews and your rent climbs, staying put for a while would be nice not just for you, but for any loved ones that live with you.

A home can provide more predictability and the chance to make long-term friends. That should reduce everyone’s stress too. As NAR explains:

“Families also benefit from homeownership, with studies proving that parents are able to spend less time in a stressed state, therefore spending more time with their children. The ability for parents to feel stable has a huge impact on children’s behavioral issues, educational success, and future economic success.”

A Stronger Feeling of Community

And if you’re also looking for a sense of belonging for yourself, homeownership can help with that too. As FinHabits says:

“Homeowners tend to be more involved in their local communities, leading to a stronger sense of belonging . . .”

It makes sense. Your home connects you to your neighborhood and, by extension, your broader community. That’s because owning a home gives you a stake in that community’s future. So, becoming more involved and wanting to do what you can to help improve the area while making long-term relationships with neighbors is only natural.

The Ability To Make the Space Your Own

And don’t forget, your home is a place that’s all yours. Unless you’ve got specific homeowner’s association requirements, you’re free to customize it however you see fit.

So, if renting has been cramping your style, it’s time to express yourself and jump on the latest trends (if you want to). Whether that’s small home improvements or full-on renovations, your house can be exactly what you want and need it to be. And as your tastes and lifestyle change, so can your home. Picture coming home each day to a place that feels like you. That’s a feeling like no other. 

Bottom Line

If you want to enjoy a sense of accomplishment and pride in where you’re living, connect with a real estate agent to go over what you need to do now to make this future happen for you.