Tips for Buyers and Sellers - Kunal Patel - Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors
Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors

Posted on November 16, 2018

Some Highlights: Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a tough decision. Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (28.4%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (17.5%), the choice becomes obvious. Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!

Posted on November 15, 2018

Everyone knows that housing affordability has been negatively impacted by rising prices and increasing mortgage rates, but there is another piece to the affordability equation – wages. How much a family earns obviously impacts how easy or difficult it is for them to afford to own a home. Because of an improving economy, wages are finally beginning to increase – and that dramatically affects home affordability. According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) September 2018 Housing Affordability Index, wages have increased in every region of the country: After applying current salaries, home prices, and mortgage rates to their Home Affordability Index equation, the index, though still lower than this time last year (160.1 to 146.7), increased over the last month (141.2 to 146.7). For the complete methodology used by NAR, click here. The percentage of income needed to own a home has also decreased each of the last three months. It currently sits at 17% which is substantially lower than historic numbers. Bottom Line If you are a first-time buyer or a move-up buyer who believes that purchasing a home is not within your budget, let’s get together to determine if that is still true.

Posted on November 14, 2018

According to a recent report by ATTOM Data Solutions, home sellers who sold their homes in the third quarter of 2018 benefited from rising home prices and netted an average of $61,232. This is the highest average price gain since the second quarter of 2007 and represents a 32% return on the original purchase prices. After the Great Recession, many homeowners were left in negative equity situations but home price appreciation in the recovery period since then has given homeowners something to smile about. The results from ATTOM fall right in line with data from the latest edition of the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Below is a chart that was created using NAR’s data to show the percentage of equity that homeowners earned at the time of sale based on when they purchased their homes. Even though those who purchased at the peak of the market netted less than those who bought before and after the peak, the good news is that there was a double-digit profit to be had! Many homeowners believe that they are still underwater which has led many of them to not even consider selling their houses. Bottom Line If you are curious about how much equity you’d earn if you sold your home, let’s get together to perform an equity review and determine the demand for your home in today’s market!

Posted on November 13, 2018

Over the past few years, two trends have emerged in the housing market: Home renovations have shot up Inventory of homes available for sale on the market has dropped A ‘normal’ housing market is defined by having a 6-month supply of homes for sale. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors, we are currently at a 4.4-month supply. This low inventory environment has many current homeowners worried that they would be unable to find a home to buy if they were to list and sell their current houses, which is causing many homeowners to instead renovate their homes in an attempt to fit their needs. According to Home Advisor, homeowners spent an average of $6,649 on home improvements over the last 12 months. If that number seems high, it also includes homeowners who recently bought fixer-uppers. A new study from Zillow asked the question, “Given a choice between spending a fixed amount of money on a down payment for a new home or fixing up their current home, what would you do?” Seventy-six percent of those surveyed said that they would rather renovate their current homes than move. The results are broken down by generation below. More and more studies are coming out about the intention that many Americans have to ‘age in place’ (or retire in the area in which they live). Among retirees, 91% would prefer to renovate than spend their available funds on a down payment on a new home. If their current house fits their needs as far as space and accessibility are concerned, then a renovation could make sense. But if renovations will end up changing the identity of the home and impacting resale value, then the renovations may end up costing them more in the long run. With home prices increasing steadily for the last 6.5 years, homeowners have naturally gained equity that they may not even be aware of. Listing your house for sale in this low-competition environment could net you more money than your renovations otherwise would. Bottom Line If you are one of the many homeowners who is thinking about remodeling instead of selling, let’s get together to help you make the right decision for you based on the demand for your house in today’s market.

Posted on November 12, 2018

One hundred years ago, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we marked the end of the “war to end all wars.” That day, which was to be observed annually on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, became known as Armistice Day and then, later on, became Veterans Day. But Veterans Day is not for veterans. They don’t serve for thanks or recognition. Veterans Day sets aside a day for those of us who haven’t worn the uniform to acknowledge those who have. So today, we honor and remember. If you ask a military family, ANY military family, how you can help them, they will respond without hesitation, “Make sure my service member is taken care of.” If you ask a service member, ANY service member, how you can best honor them, they will respond without hesitation, “Take care of my family.” Don’t know anyone who has served or is serving? More than likely, there are veterans in your midst. Each year, 260,000 military personnel relocate to new communities, and another 230,000 transition out of the military. In total, there are 22 million veterans among us in the world. For those who relocate through a Permanent Change of Station (or PCS), it can be a pretty stressful time. There isn’t a lot of time to find a new place to live and the timeline is more accelerated for finding a place to call home. MILLIE is an online community and digital marketplace that connects members of the military and their families with specialized knowledge and trusted resource providers to alleviate the stress of PCSing. According to MILLIE, “70% of active duty families live off the installation and in the surrounding communities.” Wondering what you can do to help make a recently PCSed family feel welcome? A recent survey of military families revealed that, “When respondents described the support they most appreciate, family, friends, and faith-based communities rose to the top. When they described the support they needed, they called for more networking, communication, and support groups. Families said that when leaving service, they feel as though they do not fit into the civilian world. Forging partnerships between military and civilian support systems will encourage pathways of understanding.” If you find out that your new neighbor may have been PCSed, make an effort to share what you know about your community, from the best pizza place to where you can get your oil changed. If you know that the service member of the family is actively deployed, helping out with tasks like mowing the lawn or bringing over a home-cooked meal are small gestures that will go a long way towards welcoming this family into their new home. Bottom Line Today, we honor and remember those who have served for our country. Everyone always asks what they can do to help, sometimes the simplest answer is the best one. More about MILLIE: MILLIE is an online community and digital marketplace that connects members of the military and their families with specialized knowledge and trusted resource providers to alleviate the stress of PCS’ing. Check out MILLIE’s Installation Guides, their network of Veteran and military spouse real estate agents, and MILLIE Scouts, their on-demand task service comprised of military spouses.

Posted on November 09, 2018

Some Highlights: The Veterans Administration (VA) Home Loan is a benefit that is available to more than 22 million veterans & 2 million active duty service members which helps them achieve their dreams of homeownership. In 2017, $189 billion was loaned to veterans and their families through the program. VA Purchase Loans are on the rise in 46 out of 50 states and Washington, DC.

Posted on November 08, 2018

Recently, multiple headlines have been written asserting that homeownership is less affordable today than at any other time in the last decade. Though the headlines are accurate, they lack context and lead too many Americans to believe that they can’t partake in a major part of the American Dream – owning a home. In 2008, the housing market crashed and home values fell by as much as 60% in certain markets. This was the major trigger to the Great Recession we experienced from 2008 to 2010. To come back from that recession, mortgage interest rates were pushed down to levels that were never seen before. For the last ten years, you could purchase a home at a dramatically discounted price and attain a mortgage at a historically low mortgage rate. Affordability skyrocketed. Now that home values have returned to where they should be, and mortgage rates are beginning to increase, it is less affordable to own a home than it was over the last ten years. However, what is not being reported is that it is MORE AFFORDABLE to own a home today than at any other time since 1985 (when data was first collected on this point). If you take out the years after the crash, affordability today is greater than it has been at almost any time in American history. This has not been adequately reported which has led to many Americans believing that they cannot currently afford a home. As an example, the latest edition of Freddie Mac’s Research: Profile of Today’s Renter reveals that 75% of renters now believe it is more affordable to rent than to own their own homes. This percentage is the highest ever recorded. The challenge is that this belief is incorrect. Study after study has proven that in today’s market, it is less expensive to own a home than it is to rent a home in the United States. Thankfully, some are starting to see this situation and accurately report on it. The National Association of Realtors, in their 2019 Housing Forecast, mentions this concern: “While the U.S. is experiencing historically normal levels of affordability, potential buyers may be staying out of the market because of perceived problems with affordability.” Bottom Line If you are one of the many renters who would like to own their own homes, let’s get together to find out if homeownership is affordable for you right now.

Posted on November 07, 2018

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the inventory of homes for sale this year compared to last year has increased for the last four months, all while sales of existing homes have slowed compared to last year’s numbers. For over three years leading up to this point, the exact opposite was true; Inventory dropped as sales soared. NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun shed some light on what could be contributing to this shift, “This is the lowest existing home sales level since November 2015. A decade’s high mortgage rates are preventing consumers from making quick decisions on home purchases. All the while, affordable home listings remain low, continuing to spur underperforming sales activity across the country.” Let’s take a deeper look: Interest Rates Since January, 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates have increased nearly a full percentage point (from 3.95% to 4.9%). Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the National Association of Realtors, and the Mortgage Bankers Association are all in agreement that rates will continue to increase to about 5.2% over the next 12 months. “The rise in [mortgage] rates paired with this very strong price appreciation absolutely is slowing housing,” said Fannie Mae’s Chief Economist Doug Duncan. Even though rates are higher than they’ve been in a decade, they still remain below the average for the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s! Mismatch of Inventory Elizabeth Mendenhall, President of NAR, said it best, “Despite small month over month increases, the share of first-time buyers in the market continues to underwhelm because there are simply not enough listings in their price range.” Prices of starter and trade-up homes have appreciated faster than their higher-priced counterparts. Over the last 5 years, the lowest-priced homes have appreciated by 47% while the highest-priced homes have appreciated by only 24%. According to the Institute of Luxury Home Market’s Luxury Market Report, the $1M-and-up price range is now experiencing a buyer’s market. This means that supply (inventory) has finally caught up with demand and buyers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiations. Additionally, many listings in this price range have experienced price cuts in order to entice buyers to put in offers. Natural Disasters Although not fully to blame for the national shortage in sales and inventory, natural disasters like Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, and the wildfires on the West Coast have certainly had an impact. Bottom Line Additional inventory coming to market could help normalize the housing market and allow incomes to catch up to home prices. For more information about sales and inventory in our area, let’s get together so we can help you make the best decision for you and your family.

Posted on November 06, 2018

The lack of existing inventory for sale has forced many homebuyers to begin looking at new construction. When you buy a newly constructed home instead of an existing home, there are many extra steps that must take place. To ensure a hassle-free process, here are 5 tips to keep in mind if you are considering new construction: 1. Hire an Inspector Despite the fact that builders must comply with town and city regulations, a home inspector will have your best interests in mind! When buying new construction, you will have between 1-3 inspections, depending on your preference (the foundation inspection, the pre-drywall inspection, and a final inspection). These inspections are important because the inspector will often notice something that the builder missed. If possible, attend the inspection so that you can ask questions about your new home and make sure the builder fixes any problems found by the inspector. 2. Maintain good communication with your builder Starting with the pre-construction meeting (where you will go over all the details of your home with your project manager), establish a line of communication. For example, will the builder email you every Friday with progress updates? If you are an out-of-state buyer, will you receive weekly pictures of the progress via email? Can you call the builder and if so, how often? How often can you visit the site? 3. Look for builder’s incentives The good thing about buying a new home is that you can add the countertop you need, the mudroom you want, or an extra porch off the back of your home! However, there is always a price for such additions, and they add up quickly! Some builders offer incentives that can help reduce the amount you spend on your home. Do your homework and see what sort of incentives the builders in your area are offering. 4. Schedule extra time into the process There are many things that can impact the progress on your home. One of these things is the weather, especially if you are building in the fall and winter. Rain can delay the pouring of a foundation as well as other necessary steps at the beginning of construction, while snow can freeze pipes and slow your timeline. Most builders already have a one-to-two-week buffer added into their timelines, but if you are also in the process of selling your current home, you must keep that in mind! Nobody wants to be between homes for a couple of weeks. 5. Visit the site often As we mentioned earlier, be sure to schedule time with your project manager at least once a week to see the progress on your home. It’s easy for someone who is not there all the time to notice little details that the builder may have forgotten or overlooked. Additionally, don’t forget to take pictures! You might need them later to see exactly where that pipe is or where those electrical connections are once they’re covered up with drywall! Bottom Line Watching your home come to life is a wonderful experience that can sometimes come with hassles. To avoid some of these headaches, keep these tips in mind! If you are ready to put your current home on the market and find out what new construction is available in your area, let’s get together to discuss your options!

Posted on November 05, 2018

Urban Institute recently released a report entitled, “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership: Down Payment, Credit, and Affordability,” which revealed that, “Consumers often think they need to put more money down to purchase a home than is actually required. In a 2017 survey, 68% of renters cited saving for a down payment as an obstacle to homeownership. Thirty-nine percent of renters believe that more than 20% is needed for a down payment and many renters are unaware of low–down payment programs.” Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment” Buyers often overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the same report: “Most potential homebuyers are largely unaware that there are low-down payment and no-down payment assistance programs available at the local, state, and federal levels to help eligible borrowers secure an affordable down payment.”   These numbers do not differ much between non-owners and homeowners. For example, “30% of homeowners and 39% of renters believe that you need more than 20 percent for a down payment.” While many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream homes, they do not realize that there are programs available which allow them to put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket. Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy” Similar to the down payment, many either don’t know or are misinformed about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify. Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher. To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans. As you can see in the chart above, 51.7% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749. Bottom Line Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.

Posted on November 02, 2018

Every Hour in the US Housing Market:  596 Homes Sell 278 Homes Regain Positive Equity Median Home Values Go Up $1.20

Posted on November 01, 2018

There are many questions about where home sales are headed next year. We have gathered the most reliable sources to help answer this question. Here are our sources: Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) – As the leading advocate for the real estate finance industry, the MBA enables members to successfully deliver fair, sustainable, and responsible real estate financing within ever-changing business environments. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) – The largest association of real estate professionals in the world. Freddie Mac – An organization which provides liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S. housing market in all economic conditions extending to all communities from coast to coast. Fannie Mae – A leading source of financing for mortgage lenders, providing access to affordable mortgage financing in all markets. Here are their projections: Bottom Line Every source sees home sales growing next year. Let’s get together to chat about what’s going on in our neighborhood.

Posted on October 31, 2018

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainties about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification. For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be! In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need a down payment (the average down payment on all loans last year was 5%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income, and good credit history. Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals who will all perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you. Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests to follow: Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score® of all closed loans in September was 731, according to Ellie Mae. Start gathering all of your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings). Contact a professional – your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer who can help you develop a spending plan, as well as help you determine how much home you can afford. Consult with your lender – he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for. Talk to your lender about pre-approval – a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change) and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying! Bottom Line Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure that you are ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.

Posted on October 30, 2018

Chances are if you are renting you are spending too much of your income on your monthly housing expense. There is a long-standing ‘rule’ that a household should not pay more than 28% of their income on their rent or mortgage payment. This percentage allows the household to save money for the future while comfortably covering other expenses. According to new data released from ApartmentList.com, 49.5 million renters in the United States were cost-burdened in 2017, meaning they spent more than 30% of their monthly incomes on rent. This accounts for nearly half of all renter households in the country and is up 3.1 million from 2007. When a household is cost-burdened by their monthly housing expense, they are not as easily able to save money for the future. This is a big factor for many renters who dream of owning their own homes someday. But there is hope for those who are able to save at least a 3% down payment! The percentage of income needed in the US to buy a home is significantly less than renting at 17.1%! The chart below compares the historic percentage of income needed to rent and buy from 1985-2000 to the first quarter of 2018. As you can see, the cost of renting has climbed above historic numbers while the cost of buying dropped over the same period of time. Bottom Line If you are one of the many renters who is spending too much of their monthly income on rent, consider saving money by getting a roommate, moving into a less expensive apartment, or even moving in with family. These are all ways to save for a down payment so that you can put your housing costs to work for you!

Posted on October 29, 2018

With home prices on the rise and buyer demand still strong, some sellers may be tempted to try and sell their homes on their own without using the services of a real estate professional. Real estate agents are trained and experienced in negotiation and, in most cases, the seller is not. Sellers must realize that their ability to negotiate will determine whether or not they get the best deal for themselves and their families. Here is a list of just some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate with if they decide to For Sale by Owner (FSBO): The buyer who wants the best deal possible The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interests of the buyer The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country) The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house The termite company if there are challenges The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation The appraiser if there is a question of value The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits The town or municipality if you need to get the CO permits mentioned above The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges with the house your buyer is selling Bottom Line The percentage of sellers who have hired real estate agents to sell their homes has increased steadily over the last 20 years. Let’s get together to discuss all that we can do to make the process easier for you.

Posted on October 26, 2018

Some Highlights: Many potential homebuyers believe that they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home which stops many of them from even trying! Here are some facts: 72% of buyers who purchased homes this year have put down less than 20%. 76.4% of loan applications were approved last month. The average credit score of approved loans was 727 in September.

Posted on October 25, 2018

There are many questions about where home prices will be next year as well as where they may be headed over the next several years to come. We have gathered the most reliable sources to help answer these questions: The Home Price Expectation Survey – A survey of over 100 market analysts, real estate experts, and economists conducted by Pulsenomics each quarter. Zelman & Associates – The firm leverages unparalleled housing market expertise, extensive surveys of industry executives, and rigorous financial analysis to deliver proprietary research and advice to leading global institutional investors and senior-level company executives. Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) – As the leading advocate for the real estate finance industry, the MBA enables members to successfully deliver fair, sustainable, and responsible real estate financing within ever-changing business environments. Freddie Mac – An organization whose mission is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S. housing market in all economic conditions extending to all communities from coast to coast. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) – The largest association of real estate professionals in the world. Fannie Mae – A leading source of financing for mortgage lenders, providing access to affordable mortgage financing in all markets always. Here are their projections of prices going forward: Bottom Line Every source sees home prices continuing to appreciate – just at lower percentages as we move through the next several years.

Posted on October 24, 2018

According to a new study from Urban Institute, there are over 19 million millennials in 31 cities who are not only ready and willing to become homeowners, but are able to as well! Now that the largest generation since baby boomers has aged into prime homebuying age, there will no doubt be an uptick in the national homeownership rate. The study from Urban Institute revealed that nearly a quarter of this generation has the credit and income needed to purchase a home. Surprisingly, the largest share of mortgage-ready millennials lives in expensive coastal cities. These cities often attract highly skilled workers who demand higher salaries for their expertise. So, what’s holding these mortgage-ready millennials back from buying? Myths About Down Payment Requirements!  Most of the millennials surveyed for the study believe that they need at least a 15% down payment in order to buy a home when, in reality, the median down payment in the US in 2017 was just 5%, and many programs are available for even lower down payments! The study goes on to point out that: “Despite limited awareness, every state has programs that provide grants and loans to make homeownership more attainable, with average assistance in various states ranging from $2,436 to $21,171.” Bottom Line With so many young families now able to buy a home in today’s market, the demand for housing will continue for years to come. If you are one of the many millennials who have questions about their ability to buy in today’s market, let’s get together so we can assist you along your journey!

Posted on October 23, 2018

Lately, there have been many headlines circulating about whether or not there is an “affordability issue forming in the housing market.” If you are considering selling your current house and moving up to the home of your dreams, but are unsure whether or not to believe what you’re seeing in the news, let’s look at the results of the latest Housing Affordability Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). According to NAR: “A value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that a family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.” The national index results for August came in at 141.2. This is up from 138.9 in July, but down 8.3% from last August’s value of 153.9. One big factor in determining affordability each month is the interest rate available at the time of calculation. In August 2017, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rate was 4.19%. This August, the rate rose to 4.78%! With an index reading of 141.2, housing remains affordable in the U.S. Regionally, affordability is up in three out of four regions. The Northeast had the biggest gain at 6.2%. The South had an increase of 2.4% followed by the West with a slight increase of 0.1%. The Midwest had the only dip in affordability at 4.8%. Despite month-over-month changes, the most affordable region remains the Midwest, with an index value of 175.7. The West remains the least affordable region at 101.2. For comparison, the index was 146.7 in the South, and 151.2 in the Northeast. Bottom Line If you are thinking of selling your home, let’s get together to discuss the affordability conditions in our marketplace.

Posted on October 22, 2018

There are many unsubstantiated theories about what is happening with home prices. From those who are worried that prices are falling (data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion. However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase. It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything greater than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart below). According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the monthly inventory of homes for sale has been below six months for the last five years (see chart below). Bottom Line If buyer demand continues to outpace the current supply of existing homes for sale, prices will continue to appreciate. Nothing nefarious is taking place. It is simply the theory of supply & demand working as it should.

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Kunal PatelColdwell Banker Heritage Realtors