There Are More Homes Available Now than There Were This Spring

There Are More Homes Available Now than There Were This Spring | Simplifying The Market

There’s a lot of talk lately about how challenging it can be to find a home to buy. While housing inventory is still low, there are a few important things to understand about the supply of homes for sale as we move into the end of the year.

The Number of Homes for Sale Usually Peaks in the Fall

In the residential real estate market, trends generally follow a predictable and seasonal pattern. Typically, the number of homes available for sale (or active monthly listings) peaks in the fall. But in a chapter where so little feels normal, the question becomes: should we expect a fall peak this year?

If we look at the active monthly listings for 2021 (shown in the chart below), we’ll see that the number of homes on the market has increased fairly steadily since spring this year. The realtor.com data shows we’re still seeing an increase in active inventory month-over-month. While that gain is a bit smaller month-to-month (see August to September in the chart), September numbers are still up from the month prior.There Are More Homes Available Now than There Were This Spring | Simplifying The MarketThe important takeaway here is the latest monthly numbers show growth. At the end of September, buyers had more options to pick from than they did this spring. That’s encouraging for buyers who may have paused their search months ago because they had trouble finding a home. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, sums this up nicely:

“Put simply, this September buyers had more options than they’ve had all year and while that’s typical of early fall, that’s not what happened in 2020. Still, it’s important to remember that while buyers may have an easier time this fall than they did in the spring, the market remains more competitive than it has been historically at this time of year.” 

As Hale says, a fall peak in inventory is in line with typical seasonal trends. While it’s impossible to say for certain what the future holds for housing inventory, we do know both buyers and sellers have opportunities this season based on the latest data.

What Does That Mean for You?

If you’re thinking of buying a home, rest assured you do have more options now than you did earlier this year – and that’s a welcome relief. That said, today’s market is still highly competitive. This isn’t the time to slow your search. It’s actually the season when the number of homes available for sale tends to peak. Focus on the additional options with renewed energy this season and be prepared for ongoing competition from other buyers.

If you’re considering selling your house, realize that while growing, inventory is still low. Selling now means you’ll be in a great position to negotiate with buyers – and competition among buyers is good news for your bottom line. Eager buyers will likely be motivated to act before the holidays, giving you the benefit of a fast sale.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re buying or selling, there’s still a chance to make your goals a reality this season. Let’s connect so we can discuss what’s going on with the local market and current trends and what they mean for you.

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Knowledge Is Power When It Comes to Appraisals and Inspections

Knowledge Is Power When It Comes to Appraisals and Inspections | Simplifying The Market

Buyers in today’s market often have questions about the importance of getting a home appraisal and an inspection. That’s because high buyer demand and low housing supply are driving intense competition and leading some buyers to consider waiving those contingencies to stand out in the crowded market.

But is that the best move? Buying a home is one of the most important transactions in your lifetime, and it’s critical to keep your best interests in mind. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the appraisal and the inspection, and why each one can potentially save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.

Home Appraisal

The home appraisal is a critical step for securing a mortgage on your home. As Home Light explains:

“. . . lenders typically require an appraisal to ensure that your loan-to-value ratio falls within their underwriting guidelines. Mortgages are secured loans where the lender uses your home as collateral in case you default on the agreed-upon payments.”

Put simply: when you apply for a mortgage, an unbiased appraisal – typically required by your lender – is the best way to verify the value of the home. That appraisal ensures the lender doesn’t loan you more than what the home is worth.

When buyers are competing like they are today, bidding wars and market conditions can push prices up. A buyer’s contract price may end up higher than the value of the home – this is known as an appraisal gap. In today’s market, it’s common for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference when an appraisal gap occurs. That means, as a buyer, you may need to be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Home Inspection

Like the appraisal, the inspection is important because it gives an impartial evaluation of the home. While the appraisal determines the current value of the home, the inspection determines the current condition of the home. As the American Society of Home Inspectors puts it:

“Home inspections are the opportunity to discover major defects that were not apparent at a buyer’s showing. . . . Your home inspection is to help you make an informed decision about the house, including its condition.”

If there are any concerns during the inspection – an aging roof, a malfunctioning HVAC system, or any other questionable items – you have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues with the seller. Your real estate advisor can help you navigate this process and negotiate what, if any, repairs need to be made before the sale is finalized.

Keep in mind – home inspections are critical because they can shed light on challenges you may face as the new homeowner. Without an inspection, serious, sometimes costly issues could come as a surprise later on.

Bottom Line

Both the appraisal and the inspection are important steps in the homebuying process. They protect your best interests as a buyer by providing unbiased information about the home’s value and condition. Let’s connect so you have an expert guiding you throughout the entire process.

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Important Distinction: Homes Are Less Affordable, Not Unaffordable

Important Distinction: Homes Are Less Affordable, Not Unaffordable | Simplifying The Market

It’s impossible to research the subject of buying a home without coming across a headline declaring that the fall in home affordability is a crisis. However, when we add context to the most recent affordability statistics, we soon realize that, though homes are less affordable than they have been over the last few years, they are more affordable than they historically have been.

Black Knight, a premier provider of data and analytics for the mortgage industry, just released their latest Monthly Mortgage Monitor which includes a new analysis of the affordability situation. Here’s what the report reveals:

“The monthly payment required to purchase the average priced home with a 20% down 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by nearly 20% (+$210) over the first nine months of 2021, . . . It now requires 21.6% of the median household income to make the monthly mortgage payment on the average home purchase, the least affordable housing has been since 30-year rates rose to nearly 5% back in late 2018.”

Basically, the report shows that homes are less affordable today than at any other time in the last three years. However, in a previous report earlier this year, Black Knight calculated that the percentage of the median household income to make the monthly mortgage payment on the average home purchase over the last 25 years was 23.6% (see graph below):Important Distinction: Homes Are Less Affordable, Not Unaffordable | Simplifying The MarketToday’s payment-to-income ratio is more affordable than the average over the last 25 years. Given that context, we can see that American households still have the same ability to be homeowners as their parents did 20 years ago.

This confirms the recent analysis of ATTOM Data resources where Todd Teta, Chief Product and Technology Officer, explains:

“The typical median-priced home around the U.S. remains affordable to workers earning an average wage, despite prices that keep going through the roof. Super-low interests and rising pay continue to be the main reasons why.”

Bottom Line

It’s true that it’s less affordable to buy a home today than it has been the last few years. However, it’s more affordable to buy today than the average over the last 25 years. In other words, homes are less affordable, but they’re not unaffordable. That’s an important distinction.

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Looking To Move? It Could Be Time To Build Your Dream Home.

Looking To Move? It Could Be Time To Build Your Dream Home. | Simplifying The Market

While today’s supply of homes for sale is still low, the number of newly built homes is increasing. If you’re ready to sell but have held off because you weren’t sure you’d be able to find a home to move into, newly built homes and those under construction can provide the options you’ve been waiting for.

The latest Census data shows the inventory of new homes is increasing this year (see graph below):Looking To Move? It Could Be Time To Build Your Dream Home. | Simplifying The MarketWith more new homes coming to the market, this means you’ll have more options to choose from if you’re ready to buy. Of course, if you do consider a newly built home, you’ll want to keep timing in mind. The supply shown in the graph above includes homes at various stages of the construction process – some are near completion while others may be months away.

According to Robert Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior VP for Economics and Housing Policy for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

28% of new home inventory consists of homes that have not started construction, compared to 21% a year ago.”

Buying a home near completion is great if you’re ready to move. Alternatively, a home that has yet to break ground might benefit you if you’re ready to sell and you aren’t on a strict timeline. You’ll have an even greater opportunity to design your future home to suit your needs. No matter what, your trusted real estate advisor can help you find a home that works for you.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of today’s sellers’ market, but you’re not sure if you’ll be able to find a home to move into, consider a newly built home. Let’s connect today so you have a trusted real estate advisor to guide you through the sale of your house and discuss your homebuying options.

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What Does the Future Hold for Home Prices?

What Does the Future Hold for Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

If you’re looking to buy or sell a house, chances are you’ve heard talk about today’s rising home prices. And while this increase in home values is great news for sellers, you may be wondering what the future holds. Will prices continue to rise with time, or should you expect them to fall?

To answer that question, let’s first understand a few terms you may be hearing right now.

It’s important to note home prices have increased, or appreciated, for 114 straight months. To find out if that trend may continue, look to the experts. Pulsenomics surveyed over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts asking for their five-year projections. In terms of what lies ahead, experts say the market may see some slight deceleration, but not depreciation.

Here’s the forecast for the next few years:What Does the Future Hold for Home Prices? | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph above shows, prices are expected to continue to rise, just not at the same pace we’ve seen over the last year. Over 100 experts agree, there is no expectation for price depreciation. As the arrows indicate, each number is an increase, which means prices will rise each year.

Bill McBride, author of the blog Calculated Risk, also expects deceleration, but not depreciation:

“My sense is the Case-Shiller National annual growth rate of 19.7% is probably close to a peak, and that year-over-year price increases will slow later this year.”

Ivy Zelman of Zelman & Associates agrees, saying:

“. . . home price appreciation is on the cusp of flipping to a decelerating trend.”

A recent article from realtor.com indicates you should expect:

“. . . annual price increases will slow to a more normal level, . . .”

What Does This Deceleration Mean for You?

What experts are projecting for the years ahead is more in line with the historical norm for appreciation. According to data from Black Knight, the average annual appreciation from 1995-2020 is 4.1%. As you can see from the chart above, the expert forecasts are closer to that pace, which means you should see appreciation at a level that’s aligned with a more normal year.

If you’re a buyer, don’t expect a sudden or drastic drop in home prices – experts say it won’t happen. Instead, think about your homeownership goals and consider purchasing a home before prices rise further.

If you’re a seller, the continued home price appreciation is good news for the value of your house. Work with an agent to list your house for the right price based on market conditions.

Bottom Line

Experts expect price deceleration, not price depreciation over the coming years. Let’s connect to talk through what’s happening in the housing market today, where things are headed, and what it means for you.

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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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