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Archive for the ‘Buying Myths’ Category

Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time

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Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time | Simplifying The Market

This past year, rising mortgage rates have slowed the red-hot housing market. Over the past nine months, we’ve seen fewer homes sold than the previous month as home price growth has slowed. All of this is due to the fact that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has doubled this year, severely limiting homebuying power for consumers. And, this month, the average rate for financing a home briefly rose over 7% before coming back down into the high 6% range. But we’re starting to see a hint of what mortgage interest rates could look like next year.

Inflation Is the Enemy of Long-Term Interest Rates

As long as inflation is high, we’ll see higher mortgage rates. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen indications that inflation may be cooling, giving us a glimpse into what may happen in the future. The mortgage market is eagerly awaiting positive news on inflation. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, says:

The housing market is expected to face continued uncertainty heading into 2023 as consumers, financial markets, and policymakers work through their respective challenges in today’s economy. . . . we are watching for any additional stability in the MBS market, signs of cooling inflation, and/or less aggressive Federal Reserve action to give us confidence that mortgage rates are past their peak.”

What Does This Mean for the Future of Mortgage Rates?

As we get through the inflation battle and start to see that coming down, we should expect mortgage rates to follow. We’ve seen nods of this over the past couple of weeks. As the Federal Reserve works to bring inflation down, mortgage rates will come down as well. Bill McBride from Calculated Risk says:

My current view is inflation will ease quicker than the Fed currently expects.”

As we look toward next year, we certainly hope he’s right.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates will come down – it’s just a matter of time. The hope is we continue to see more positive news on inflation, and that’ll bring mortgage rates down. This will give prospective homebuyers more buying power and lead to more homeowners throughout the country.

VA Loans: Making Homes for the Brave Achievable [INFOGRAPHIC]

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VA Loans: Making Homes for the Brave Achievable [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

VA Loans: Making Homes for the Brave Achievable [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • VA Loans can help make homeownership possible for those who have served our country.
  • These loans offer great benefits for eligible individuals and can help them buy a VA-approved house or condo, build a new home, or make improvements to their house.
  • Homeownership is the American Dream. One way we can honor and thank our veterans is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans.

VA Loans Can Help Veterans Achieve Their Dream of Homeownership

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VA Loans Can Help Veterans Achieve Their Dream of Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

For over 78 years, Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans have provided millions of veterans with the opportunity to purchase homes of their own. If you or a loved one have served, it’s important to understand this program and its benefits.

Here are some things you should know about VA loans before you start the homebuying process.

What Are VA Loans?

VA home loans provide a pathway to homeownership for those who have served our nation. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs describes the program like this:

“VA helps Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. As part of our mission to serve you, we provide a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.”

Top Benefits of the VA Home Loan Program

In addition to helping eligible buyers achieve their homeownership dreams, VA loans have several other great benefits for buyers who qualify. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs:

  • Qualified borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment.
  • Many other loans with down payments under 20% require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). VA Loans do not require PMI, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.
  • VA-Backed Loans often offer competitive terms and mortgage interest rates.

A recent article from Veterans United sums up just how impactful this loan option can be:

“For the vast majority of military borrowers, VA loans represent the most powerful lending program on the market. These flexible, $0-down payment mortgages have helped more than 24 million service members become homeowners since 1944.”

John Bell, Acting Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Guaranty Service, also explains why this program is so powerful:

“It provides early ownership for many people that would not have that opportunity to begin with. Since there’s no down payment, it allows people to hold their wealth and it gives them the ability to have long term financial security by being able to own a house and let that equity grow.”

Bottom Line

Homeownership is the American Dream. Our veterans sacrifice so much in service of our nation, and one way we can honor and thank them is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans. Thank you for your service.

Taking the Fear out of Saving for a Home

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Taking the Fear out of Saving for a Home | Simplifying The Market

If you’re planning to buy a home, knowing what to budget for and how to save may sound scary at first. But it doesn’t have to be. One way to take the fear out of budgeting is understanding some of the costs you might encounter.  And to do that, turn to trusted real estate professionals. They can help you plan your finances and prepare your budget.

Here are just a few costs experts say you can expect.

1. Down Payment

Saving for your down payment is likely top of mind as you set out to buy a home. But do you know how much you’ll need to save? While each situation is different, there’s a common misconception that putting 20% down toward your purchase is required. An article from the Mortgage Reports explains why that’s not always the case:

“The idea that you have to put 20% down on a house is a myth. . . . The right amount depends on your current savings and your home buying goals.”

To understand your options, partner with a trusted real estate professional to go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires.

2. Closing Costs

Make sure you also budget for closing costs, which are a collection of fees and payments made to the various people involved in your transaction. Bankrate explains:

Closing costs are the fees you pay when finalizing a real estate transaction, whether you’re refinancing a mortgage or buying a new home. These costs can amount to 2 to 5 percent of the mortgage so it’s important to be financially prepared for this expense.”

The best way to understand what you’ll need at the closing table is to work with a trusted lender. They can provide you with answers to the questions you might have.

3. Earnest Money Deposit

If you want to cover all your bases, you can also consider saving for an earnest money deposit (EMD). An EMD is money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. According to realtor.com, it’s usually between 1% and 2% of the total home price.

This deposit works like a credit. It’s not an added expense – it’s paying a portion of your costs upfront. You’re using some of the money you already saved for your purchase to show the seller you’re committed and serious about their house. Realtor.com describes how it works as part of your sale:

It tells the real estate seller you’re in earnest as a buyer, . . . . Assuming that all goes well and the buyer’s good-faith offer is accepted by the seller, the earnest money funds go toward the down payment and closing costs. In effect, earnest money is just paying more of the down payment and closing costs upfront.”

Keep in mind, an EMD isn’t required, and it doesn’t guarantee your offer will be accepted. It’s important to work with a real estate advisor to understand what’s best for your situation and any specific requirements in your area. They’ll help you determine what moves you should make in the homebuying process to have the greatest success.

Bottom Line

Budgeting for your home purchase doesn’t have to be scary. Let’s connect so you’ll have an expert on your side to answer any questions you have along the way.

What You Need To Budget for When Buying a Home

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What You Need To Budget for When Buying a Home | Simplifying The Market

When it comes to buying a home, it can feel a bit intimidating to know how much you need to save and where to find that information. But you should know, you’re not expected to have all the answers yourself. There are many trusted professionals who can help you understand your finances and what you’ll need to budget for throughout the process.

To get you started, here are a few things experts say you should plan for along the way.

1. Down Payment

As you set your savings goal for your purchase, your down payment is likely already top of mind. And, like many other people, you may believe you need to set aside 20% of the home’s purchase price for that down payment – but that’s not always the case. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

One of the biggest misconceptions among housing consumers is what the typical down payment is and what amount is needed to enter homeownership. Having this knowledge is critical to know what to save . . .”

The good news is, you may be able to put as little as 3.5% (or even 0%) down in some situations. To understand your options, partner with a trusted professional who can go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires.

2. Earnest Money Deposit

Another item you may want to plan for is an earnest money deposit. While it isn’t required, it’s common in today’s highly competitive market because it can help your offer stand out in a bidding war.

So, what is it? It’s money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. This deposit works like a credit. You’re using some of the money you already saved for your purchase to show the seller you’re committed and serious about their house. It’s not an added expense, it’s just paying some of that up front. First American explains what it is and how it works:

The deposit made from the buyer to the seller when submitting an offer. This deposit is typically held in trust by a third party and is intended to show the seller you are serious about purchasing their home. Upon closing the money will generally be applied to your down payment or closing costs.”

In other words, an earnest money deposit could be the very first check you’ll write toward your purchase. The amount varies by state and situation. Realtor.com elaborates:

The amount you’ll deposit as earnest money will depend on factors such as policies and limitations in your state, the current market, what your real estate agent recommends, and what the seller requires. On average, however, you can expect to hand over 1% to 2% of the total home purchase price.”

Work with a real estate advisor to understand any requirements in your local area and what they’ve recommended for other buyers in your market. They’ll help you determine if it’s something that could be a useful option for you.

3. Closing Costs

The next thing to plan for is your closing costs. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines closing costs as:

The upfront fees charged in connection with a mortgage loan transaction. …generally including, but not limited to a loan origination fee, title examination and insurance, survey, attorney’s fee, and prepaid items, such as escrow deposits for taxes and insurance.”

Basically, your closing costs cover the fees for various people and services involved in your transaction. NAR has this to say about how much to budget for:

“A home costs more than just the sale price. For example, closing costs—which make up about 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price—are a major added expense…Lenders provide a Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing on a mortgage. But buyers will need to budget for these added costs ahead of time to avoid sticker shock days before closing.”

The key takeaway is savvy buyers plan ahead for these expenses so they can come into the process prepared. Freddie Mac sums it up like this:

“If you’re in the market to buy a home, your down payment is probably top of mind. And rightly so – it’s likely the biggest cost of homebuying. However, it is not the only cost and it’s critical you understand all your expenses before diving in. The more prepared you are for your down payment, closing and other costs, the smoother your homebuying journey will be.”

Bottom Line

Knowing what to budget for in the homebuying process is essential. To make sure you understand these and any other expenses that may come up, let’s connect so you have reliable expertise on what to expect when you buy a home.

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Knowing key housing terms and how they relate to today’s market is important. For example, when mortgage rates and home prices rise, it impacts how much home you can afford.
  • Terms like appraisal (what lenders rely on to validate a home’s value) and the inspection contingency (which gives buyers essential information on a home’s condition) directly impact the transaction.
  • Buying a home can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the terms used throughout the process. Let’s connect so you have an expert guide and advice for any questions that may come up.

Key Factors That Impact Affordability Today

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Key Factors That Impact Affordability Today | Simplifying The Market

You can’t read an article about residential real estate without the author mentioning the affordability challenges that today’s buyers face. There’s no doubt homes are less affordable today than they were over the last two years, but that doesn’t mean homes are now unaffordable.

There are three measures used to establish home affordability: home prices, mortgage rates, and wages. Let’s look closely at each of these components.

1. Home Prices

The most recent Home Price Insights report by CoreLogic shows home values have increased by 19.1% from last January to this January. That was one reason affordability declined over the past year.

2. Mortgage Rates

While the current global uncertainty makes it difficult to project mortgage rates, we do know current rates are almost one full percentage point higher than they were last year. According to Freddie Mac, the average monthly rate for last February was 2.81%. This February it was 3.76%. That increase in the mortgage rate also contributes to homes being less affordable than they were last year.

3. Wages

The one big, positive component in the affordability equation is an increase in American wages. In a recent article by RealtyTrac, Peter Miller addresses that point:

“Prices are up, but what about wages? ADP reports that job holder incomes increased 5.9% last year but rose 8.0% for those who switched employers. In effect, some of the higher cost to buy a home has been offset by more cash income.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also recently released information that looks at income and affordability. The NAR data provides a comparison of the current median family income versus the qualifying income for a median-priced home in each region of the country. Here’s a graph of their findings:

Key Factors That Impact Affordability Today | Simplifying The Market

As the graph shows, the median family income (shown in blue on the graph) is greater than the qualifying income needed to buy a median-priced home (shown in green on the graph) in all four regions of the country. While those figures may vary in certain locations within each region, it’s important to note that, in most of the country, homes are still affordable.

So, when you think about affordability, remember that the picture includes more than just home prices and mortgage rates. When prices rise and rates rise, it does impact affordability, and experts project both of those things will climb in the months ahead. That’s why it’s less affordable to buy a home than it was over the past two years when prices and rates were lower than they are today. But wages need to be factored into affordability as well. Because wages have been rising, they’re a big reason that, while less affordable, homes are not unaffordable today.

Bottom Line

To find out more about affordability in our local area, let’s discuss where home prices are locally, what’s happening with mortgage rates, and get you in contact with a lender so you can make an informed financial decision. Remember, while less affordable, homes are not unaffordable, which still gives you an opportunity to buy today.

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership

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Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

For many homebuyers, the thought of saving for a down payment can feel daunting, especially in today’s market. That’s why, when asked what they find most difficult in the homebuying process, some buyers say it’s one of the hardest steps on the path to homeownership. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows:

“For first-time home buyers, 29 percent said saving for a downpayment [sic] was the most difficult step in the process.

If you’re finding that your down payment is your biggest hurdle, the good news is there are many down payment assistance programs available that can help you achieve your goals. The key is understanding where to look and learning what options are available. Here’s some information that can help.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

According to downpaymentresource.com, there are thousands of financial assistance programs available for homebuyers, like affordable mortgage options for first-time buyers. But, of the many programs that are available, down payment assistance options make up the large majority. They say 73% of the assistance available to homebuyers is there to help you with your down payment.

And it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for these programs. Downpaymentresource.com notes:

“You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 38% of all programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

That means no matter where you are in your homeownership journey, there could be an option available for you.

There Are Local Programs and Specialized Programs for Public Servants

There are also multiple down payment assistance resources designed to help those who serve our communities. Teacher Next Door is one of those programs:

“The Teacher Next Door Program was designed to increase home ownership among teachers and other public servants, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.”

Teacher Next Door is just one program that seeks to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and veterans reach their down payment goals.

And, most importantly, even if you don’t qualify for these types of specialized programs, there are many federal, state, and local programs available for you to explore. And the best way to do that is to connect with a local real estate professional to learn more about what’s available in your area.

Bottom Line

If saving for a down payment seems daunting, there are programs available that can help. And if you work to serve our community, there may be even more opportunities available to you. To learn more about your options, let’s connect so you can start your homebuying journey today.

Don’t Let Student Loans Delay Your Homeownership Dreams

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Don’t Let Student Loans Delay Your Homeownership Dreams | Simplifying The Market

If you’re looking to buy a home, you may be wondering how your student loan debt could impact those plans. Do you have to wait until you’ve paid off your student loans before you can buy your first home? Or could you qualify for a home loan with that debt?

To give you the answers you’re searching for, let’s take a look at what recent data shows. That way, you know what to expect and what to do next to achieve your dream of becoming a homeowner. While everyone’s situation is unique, your goal may be more within your reach than you realize.

Do you have to delay your plans because of student loans?

If you’re worried your student loans mean you have to put your homeownership goals on hold, you’re not alone. In fact, many first-time buyers believe they have to delay their plans. According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

When asked specifically about purchasing a home, half of nonhomeowners say student loan debt is delaying them from purchasing a home (51%).”

When asked why their student loans are putting their plans on the back burner, three key themes emerged:

  • 47% say their student loans make it harder to save for a down payment
  • 45% say they think they can’t qualify for a home loan because of existing debt
  • 43% say they believe the delay is necessary even though they’ve never applied for a mortgage

No matter which reason resonates most with you, you should know a delay may not be necessary. Here’s why.

Can you qualify for a home loan if you have student loans?

In the same NAR report, data shows many current homeowners have student loan debt themselves:

“Nearly one-quarter of all home buyers, and 37% of first-time buyers, had student debt, with a typical amount of $30,000.”

That means other people in a similar situation were able to qualify for and buy a home even though they also had student loan debt. You may be able to do the same, especially if you have a steady source of income. Apartment Therapy drives this point home:

“. . . buying a home with student loans is possible, experts say. The proof is in the numbers, too: Some 40 percent of first-time homebuyers have student loan debt, according to the NAR study.”

The key takeaway is, for many people, homeownership is achievable even with student loans. 

The best way to make a decision about your goals and next steps is to talk to the professionals. A real estate advisor can walk you through your specific situation, your options, and what has worked for other buyers like you. They can also connect you with other professionals in the industry who can help. You don’t have to figure this out on your own – lean on the experts so you have the information you need to make an informed, confident decision.

Bottom Line

Many other buyers with student loan debt are already achieving their homeownership dreams. Maybe it’s time to take the next step toward making yours a reality. Let’s connect to discuss your options and find out how close you are to achieving your goal.

Owning Is More Affordable than Renting in the Majority of the Country

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Owning Is More Affordable than Renting in the Majority of the Country | Simplifying The Market

If you were thinking about buying a home this year, but already pressed pause on your plans due to rising home prices and increasing mortgage rates, there’s something you should consider. According to the latest report from ATTOM Data, owning a home is more affordable than renting in the majority of the country. The 2022 Rental Affordability Report says:

“. . . Owning a median-priced home is more affordable than the average rent on a three-bedroom property in 666, or 58 percent, of the 1,154 U.S. counties analyzed for the report. That means major home ownership expenses consume a smaller portion of average local wages than renting.”

Other experts in the industry offer additional perspectives on renting today. In the latest Single-Family Rent Index from CoreLogic, single-family rent saw the fastest year-over-year growth in over 16 years when comparing data for November each year (see graph below):

Owning Is More Affordable than Renting in the Majority of the Country | Simplifying The Market

Molly Boesel, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, stresses the importance of what the data shows:

Single-family rent growth hit its sixth consecutive record high. . . . Annual rent growth . . . was more than three times that of a year earlier. Rent growth should continue to be robust in the near term, especially as the labor market continues to improve.”

What Does This Mean for You?

While it’s true home prices and mortgage rates are rising, so are monthly rents. As a prospective buyer, rising rates and prices shouldn’t be enough to keep you on the sideline, though. As the chart above shows, rents are skyrocketing. The big difference is, when you rent, that rising cost benefits your landlord’s investment strategy, but it doesn’t deliver any sort of return for you.

In contrast, when you buy a home, your monthly mortgage payment serves as a form of forced savings. Over time, as you pay down your loan and as home values rise, you’re building equity (and by extension, your own net worth). Not to mention, you’ll lock in your mortgage payment for the duration of your loan (typically 15 to 30 years) and give yourself a stable and reliable monthly payment.

When asking yourself if you should keep renting or if it’s time to buy, think about what Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer at ATTOM Data, says:

“. . . Home ownership still remains the more affordable option for average workers in a majority of the country because it still takes up a smaller portion of their pay.”  

If buying takes up a smaller portion of your pay and has benefits renting can’t provide, the question really becomes: is renting really worth it?

Bottom Line

If you’re weighing your options between renting and buying, it’s important to look at the full picture. While buying a home can feel like a daunting process, having a trusted advisor on your side is key. Work with an agent to explore your options so you can learn more about the benefits of homeownership today.