Home Equity Can Be a Game Changer When You Sell

Home Equity Can Be a Game Changer When You Sell Simplifying The Market

Are you on the fence about selling your house? While affordability is improving this year, it’s still tight. And that may be on your mind. But understanding your home equity could be the key to making your decision easier. An article from Bankrate explains:

Home equity is the difference between your home’s value and the amount you still owe on your mortgage. It represents the paid-off portion of your home.

You’ll start off with a certain level of equity when you make your down payment to buy the home, then continue to build equity as you pay down your mortgage. You’ll also build equity over time as your home’s value increases.”

Think of equity as a simple math equation. It’s the value of your home now minus what you owe on your mortgage. And guess what? Recently, your equity has probably grown more than you think.

In the past few years, home prices skyrocketed, which means your home’s value – and your equity – likely shot up, too. So, you may have more equity than you realize.

How To Make the Most of Your Home Equity Right Now

If you’re thinking about moving, the equity you have in your home could be a big help. According to CoreLogic:

“. . . the average U.S. homeowner with a mortgage still has more than $300,000 in equity . . .”

Clearly, homeowners have a lot of equity right now. And the latest data from the Census and ATTOM shows over two-thirds of homeowners have either completely paid off their mortgages (shown in green in the chart below) or have at least 50% equity (shown in blue in the chart below):

 

That means roughly 70% have a tremendous amount of equity right now.

After you sell your house, you can use your equity to help you buy your next home. Here’s how:

  • Be an all-cash buyer: If you’ve been living in your current home for a long time, you might have enough equity to buy your next home without having to take out a loan. If that’s the case, you won’t need to borrow any money or worry about mortgage rates. Investopedia states:

“You may want to pay cash for your home if you’re shopping in a competitive housing market, or if you’d like to save money on mortgage interest. It could help you close a deal and beat out other buyers.

  • Make a larger down payment: Your equity could also be used toward your next down payment. It might even be enough to let you put a larger amount down, so you won’t have to borrow as much money. The Mortgage Reports explains:

Borrowers who put down more money typically receive better interest rates from lenders. This is due to the fact that a larger down payment lowers the lender’s risk because the borrower has more equity in the home from the beginning.”

The Easy Way To Find Out How Much Equity You Have

To find out how much equity you have in your home, ask a real estate agent you trust for a Professional Equity Assessment Report (PEAR). 

Bottom Line

Planning a move? Your home equity can really help you out. Connect with a local real estate agent to see how much equity you have and how it can help with your next home.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

Why Pre-Approval Is Even More Important This Year

Why Pre-Approval Is Even More Important This Year Simplifying The Market

On the road to becoming a homeowner? If so, you may have heard the term pre-approval get tossed around. Let’s break down what it is and why it’s important if you’re looking to buy a home in 2024.

What Pre-Approval Is

As part of the homebuying process, your lender will look at your finances to figure out what they’re willing to loan you. According to Investopedia, this includes things like your W-2, tax returns, credit score, bank statements, and more.

From there, they’ll give you a pre-approval letter to help you understand how much money you can borrow. Freddie Mac explains it like this:

A pre-approval is an indication from your lender that they are willing to lend you a certain amount of money to buy your future home. . . . Keep in mind that the loan amount in the pre-approval letter is the lender’s maximum offer. Ultimately, you should only borrow an amount you are comfortable repaying.”

Now, that last piece is especially important. While home affordability is getting better, it’s still tight. So, getting a good idea of what you can borrow can help you really wrap your head around the financial side of things. It doesn’t mean you should borrow the full amount. It just tells you what you can borrow from that lender.

This sets you up to make an informed decision about your numbers. That way you’re able to tailor your home search to what you’re actually comfortable with budget-wise and can act fast when you find a home you love.

Why Pre-Approval Is So Important in 2024

If you want to buy a home this year, there’s another reason you’re going to want to be sure you’re working with a trusted lender to make this a priority.

While more homes are being listed for sale, the overall number of available homes is still below the norm. At the same time, the recent downward trend in mortgage rates compared to last year is bringing more buyers back into the market. That imbalance of more demand than supply creates a bit of a tug-of-war for you.

It means you’ll likely find you have more competition from other buyers as more and more people who were sitting on the sidelines when mortgage rates were higher decide to jump back in. But pre-approval can help with that too.

Pre-approval shows sellers you mean business because you’ve already undergone a credit and financial check. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, says:

“Preapproval carries more weight because it means lenders have actually done more than a cursory review of your credit and your finances, but have instead reviewed your pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements. A preapproval means you’ve cleared the hurdles necessary to be approved for a mortgage up to a certain dollar amount.”

Sellers love that because that makes it more likely the sale will move forward without unexpected delays or issues. And if you may be competing with another buyer to land your dream home, why wouldn’t you do this to help stack the deck in your favor?

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home in 2024, know that getting pre-approved is going to be a key piece of the puzzle. With lower mortgage rates bringing more buyers back into the market, this can help you make a strong offer that stands out from the crowd.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

Houses Are Still Selling Fast

Houses Are Still Selling Fast Simplifying The Market

Have you been thinking about selling your house? If so, here’s some good news. While the housing market isn’t as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when houses were selling quicker than ever, they’re still selling faster than normal.

The graph below uses data from Realtor.com to tell the story of median days on the market for every January from 2017 all the way through the latest numbers available. For Realtor.com, days on the market means from the time a house is listed for sale until its closing date or the date it’s taken off the market. This metric can help give you an idea of just how quickly homes are selling compared to more normal years:

 

When you look at the most recent data (shown in green), it’s clear homes are selling faster than they usually would (shown in blue). In fact, the only years when houses sold even faster than they are right now were the abnormal ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). According to Realtor.com:

“Homes spent 69 days on the market, which is three days shorter than last year and more than two weeks shorter than before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What Does This Mean for You?

Homes are selling faster than the norm for this time of year – and your house may sell quickly too. That’s because more people are looking to buy now that mortgage rates have come down, but there still aren’t enough homes to go around. Mike Simonsen, Founder of Altos Research, says:

“. . . 2024 is starting stronger than last year. And demand is increasing each week.”

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering if it’s a good time to sell your home, the most recent data suggests it is. The housing market appears to be stronger than it usually is at this time of year. To get the latest updates on what’s happening in your local market, connect with a real estate agent.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

Why Having Your Own Agent Matters When Buying a New Construction Home

Why Having Your Own Agent Matters When Buying a New Construction Home Simplifying The Market

Finding the right home is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers today. Right now, the supply of homes for sale is still low. But there is a bright spot. Newly built homes make up a larger percent of the total homes available for sale than normal. That’s why, if you’re craving more options, it makes sense to see if a newly built home is right for you.

But it’s important to remember the process of working with a builder is different than buying from a homeowner. And, while builders typically have sales agents on-site, having your own agent helps make sure you have proper representation throughout your homebuying journey. As Realtor.com says:

“Keep in mind that the on-site agent you meet at a new-construction office works for the builder. So, as the homebuyer, it’s a smart idea to bring in your own agent, as well, to help you negotiate and stay protected in the transaction.”

Here’s how having your own agent is key when you build or buy a new construction home.

Agents Know the Local Area and Market

It’s important to consider how the neighborhood and surrounding area may evolve before making your home purchase. Your agent is well-versed in the upcoming communities and developments that could influence your decision. One way a real estate agent can help is by reviewing the builder’s site plan. For example, you’ll want to know if there are any plans to construct a highway or add a drainage ditch behind your prospective backyard.

Knowledge of Construction Quality and Builder Reputation

An agent also has expertise in the construction quality and reputation of different builders. They can give you insights into each one’s track record, customer satisfaction, and construction practices. Armed with this information, you can choose a builder known for consistently delivering top-notch homes.

Assistance with Customization and Upgrades

The most obvious benefit of opting for new home construction is the opportunity to customize your home. Your agent will guide you through that process and share advice on the upgrades that are most likely to add long-term value to your home. Their expertise helps make sure you focus your budget on areas that will give you the greatest return on your investment later.

Understanding Builder Negotiations and Contracts

When it comes to working with builders, having a skilled negotiator on your side can make all the difference. Builder contracts can be complex. Your agent can help you navigate these contracts to make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions. Plus, agents are skilled negotiators who can advocate for you, potentially securing better deals, upgrades, or incentives throughout the process. As Realtor.com says:

“A good buyer’s agent will be able to review any contracts before you sign on the dotted line, ensuring you aren’t unwittingly agreeing to terms that only benefit the builder.” 

Bottom Line

If you are interested in buying or building a new construction home, having a trusted agent by your side can make a big difference. If you’d like to start that conversation, connect with a local real estate agent.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

There’s No Foreclosure Wave in Sight [INFOGRAPHIC]

There’s No Foreclosure Wave in Sight [INFOGRAPHIC] Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Headlines saying foreclosures are rising might make you feel uneasy. But the truth is, there’s no need to worry.
  • If you look at the latest numbers, they’re still below pre-pandemic norms and way below what happened during the crash.
  • If you’re worried about a flood of foreclosures, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is today and is not where it’s headed.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

Don’t Wait Until Spring To Sell Your House

Don’t Wait Until Spring To Sell Your House Simplifying The Market

As you think about the year ahead, one of your big goals may be moving. But, how do you know when to make your move? While spring is usually the peak homebuying season, you don’t actually need to wait until spring to sell. Here’s why.

1. Take Advantage of Lower Mortgage Rates

Last October, the 30-year fixed mortgage rates peaked at 7.79%. In January, they hit their lowest level since May. That means you may not feel as locked-in to your current mortgage rate right now. That downward trend in rates has made moving more affordable now than it was just a few months ago.

Another reason today’s rates make now a good time to sell? More buyers are jumping back into the market. Many had been waiting on the sidelines for rates to fall, but now that that’s happening, they’re eager and ready to buy. That means more demand for your house. According to Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

“Given this stabilization in rates, potential homebuyers with affordability concerns have jumped off the fence back into the market.”

2. Get Ahead of Your Competition

Right now, there are still more people looking to buy a home than there are houses for sale, which puts you in a great position. But keep in mind, with the recent uptick in new listings, we’re seeing more sellers may already be re-entering the market.

Listing your house now helps you beat your competition and makes sure your house will stand out. And if you work with an agent to price it right, it could sell fast and get multiple offers. U.S. News explains:

“When there is low housing inventory, sellers could get top dollar for their homes.”

3. Make the Most of Rising Home Prices

Experts forecast home prices will keep going up this year. What does that mean for you? If you’re ready to sell your current house and plan to buy another one, it may be a good idea to think about moving now before prices go up more. That would give you the chance to buy your next home before it gets more expensive.

4. Leverage Your Equity

Homeowners today have tremendous amounts of equity. In fact, a recent report from CoreLogic says the average homeowner with a mortgage has more than $300,000 in equity.

If you’ve been waiting to sell because you were worried about home affordability, know your equity can really help with your next move. It might even cover a big part, or maybe all, of the down payment for your next home.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house and moving to another one, connect with a local real estate agent to get the process started now so you can get a leg up on your competition.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

Foreclosure Activity Is Still Lower than the Norm

Foreclosure Activity Is Still Lower than the Norm Simplifying The Market

Have you seen headlines talking about the increase in foreclosures in today’s housing market? If so, they may leave you feeling a bit uneasy about what’s ahead. But remember, these clickbait titles don’t always give you the full story.

The truth is, if you compare the current numbers with what usually happens in the market, you’ll see there’s no need to worry.

Putting the Headlines into Perspective

The increase the media is calling attention to is misleading. That’s because they’re only comparing the most recent numbers to a time where foreclosures were at historic lows. And that’s making it sound like a bigger deal than it is.

In 2020 and 2021, the moratorium and forbearance program helped millions of homeowners stay in their homes, allowing them to get back on their feet during a very challenging period.

When the moratorium came to an end, there was an expected rise in foreclosures. But just because foreclosures are up doesn’t mean the housing market is in trouble.

Historical Data Shows There Isn’t a Wave of Foreclosures

Instead of comparing today’s numbers with the last few abnormal years, it’s better to compare to long-term trends – specifically to the housing crash – since that’s what people worry may happen again.

Take a look at the graph below. It uses foreclosure data from ATTOM, a property data provider, to show foreclosure activity has been consistently lower (shown in orange) since the crash in 2008 (shown in red):

So, while foreclosure filings are up in the latest report, it’s clear this is nothing like it was back then.

In fact, we’re not even back at the levels we’d see in more normal years, like 2019. As Rick Sharga, Founder and CEO of the CJ Patrick Company, explains:

Foreclosure activity is still only at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels. . .”

That’s largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. Delinquency rates are still low and most homeowners have enough equity to keep them from going into foreclosure. As Molly Boesel, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, says:

“U.S. mortgage delinquency rates remained healthy in October, with the overall delinquency rate unchanged from a year earlier and the serious delinquency rate remaining at a historic low… borrowers in later stages of delinquencies are finding alternatives to defaulting on their home loans.”

The reality is, while increasing, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is today, or where it’s headed.

Bottom Line

Even though the housing market is experiencing an expected rise in foreclosures, it’s nowhere near the crisis levels seen when the housing bubble burst. If you have questions about what you’re hearing or reading about the housing market, connect with a real estate agent.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

2 of the Factors That Impact Mortgage Rates

2 of the Factors That Impact Mortgage Rates Simplifying The Market

If you’re looking to buy a home, you’ve probably been paying close attention to mortgage rates. Over the last couple of years, they hit record lows, rose dramatically, and are now dropping back down a bit. Ever wonder why?

The answer is complicated because there’s a lot that can influence mortgage rates. Here are just a few of the most impactful factors at play.

Inflation and the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve (Fed) doesn’t directly determine mortgage rates. But the Fed does move the Federal Funds Rate up or down in response to what’s happening with inflation, the economy, employment rates, and more. As that happens, mortgage rates tend to respond. Business Insider explains:

The Federal Reserve slows inflation by raising the federal funds rate, which can indirectly impact mortgages. High inflation and investor expectations of more Fed rate hikes can push mortgage rates up. If investors believe the Fed may cut rates and inflation is decelerating, mortgage rates will typically trend down.”

Over the last couple of years, the Fed raised the Federal Fund Rate to try to fight inflation and, as that happened, mortgage rates jumped up, too. Fortunately, the expert outlook for inflation and mortgage rates is that both should become more favorable over the course of the year. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com, says:

“[M]ortgage rates will continue to ease in 2024 as inflation improves . . .”

There’s even talk the Fed may actually cut the Fed Funds Rate this year because inflation is cooling, even though it’s not yet back to their ideal target.

The 10-Year Treasury Yield

Additionally, mortgage companies look at the 10-Year Treasury Yield to decide how much interest to charge on home loans. If the yield goes up, mortgage rates usually go up, too. The opposite is also true. According to Investopedia:

“One frequently used government bond benchmark to which mortgage lenders often peg their interest rates is the 10-year Treasury bond yield.”

Historically, the spread between the 10-Year Treasury Yield and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has been fairly consistent, but that’s not the case recently. That means, there’s room for mortgage rates to come down. So, keeping an eye on which way the treasury yield is trending can give experts an idea of where mortgage rates may head next.

Bottom Line

With the Fed meeting later this week, experts in the industry will be keeping a close watch to see what they decide and what impact it’ll have on the economy. To navigate any mortgage rate changes and their impact on your moving plans, it’s best to have a team of professionals on your side.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

Will a Silver Tsunami Change the 2024 Housing Market?

Will a Silver Tsunami Change the 2024 Housing Market? Simplifying The Market

Have you ever heard the term “Silver Tsunami” and wondered what it’s all about? If so, that might be because there’s been lot of talk about it online recently. Let’s dive into what it is and why it won’t drastically impact the housing market.

What Does Silver Tsunami Mean?

A recent article from HousingWire calls it:

“. . . a colloquialism referring to aging Americans changing their housing arrangements to accommodate aging . . .”

The thought is that as baby boomers grow older, a significant number will start downsizing their homes. Considering how large that generation is, if these moves happened in a big wave, it would affect the housing market by causing a significant uptick in the number of larger homes for sale. That influx of homes coming onto the market would impact the balance of supply and demand and more.

The concept makes sense in theory, but will it happen? And if so, when?

Why It Won’t Have a Huge Impact on the Housing Market in 2024

Experts say, so far, a silver tsunami hasn’t happened – and it probably won’t anytime soon. According to that same article from HousingWire:

“. . . the silver tsunami’s transformative potential for the U.S. housing market has not yet materialized in any meaningful way, and few expect it to anytime soon.”

Here’s just one reason why. Many baby boomers don’t want to move. Data from the AARP shows over half of the surveyed adults ages 65 and up plan to stay put and age in place in their current home rather than move (see chart below):

Clearly, not every baby boomer is planning to sell or move – and even those who do won’t do it all at once. Instead, it will be more gradual, happening slowly over time. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says:

Demographics are never a tsunami. The baby boomer generation is almost two decades of births. That means they’re going to take about two decades to work their way through.”

Bottom Line

If you’re worried about a Silver Tsunami shaking up the housing market, don’t be. Any impact from baby boomers moving will be gradual over many years. Fleming sums it up best:

 

“Demographic trends, they don’t tsunami. They trickle.”

Source: Keeping Current Matters

Why It’s More Affordable To Buy a Home This Year [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why It’s More Affordable To Buy a Home This Year [INFOGRAPHIC] Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

Source: Keeping Current Matters