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Are you prepping to buy your first home? If so, one of the steps you should take early on is making sure you’re financially ready for your purchase. Here are just a few of the financial fundamentals you’ll need to focus on as you set out to buy a home.
Your credit is one element that helps determine which home loan you’ll qualify for. It also impacts your mortgage interest rate. While there are many factors that go into your mortgage application, a higher credit score could lead to a lower monthly payment in the long run.
So how do you make sure your credit is in the best shape possible when it’s time to buy? A recent article from NerdWallet lists a few tips you can use as you work to build and strengthen your credit. They include:
You might also be wondering how you can achieve your down payment savings goals. Bankrate provides buyers with a number of tips to help you save, including searching for down payment assistance programs and ways you can save more, faster. As the article says:
“One of the best ways to save for anything — including a down payment — is to set it and forget it. If you receive a regular paycheck, ask your employer to direct a portion of that payment into a savings account. If you’re a freelance worker or independent contractor, set up a recurring transfer from a checking account to a savings account to establish the routine.”
As you prepare for your purchase, you’ll also need to have a good grasp on your budget and how much you’ll be able to borrow for your home loan. That’s where the pre-approval process comes in.
Pre-approval from a lender lets you know how much money you can borrow for your home loan. And having that knowledge, plus an understanding of your savings, can help you decide on your target price range for a house.
From there, you can start browsing for houses online and see what’s available in your area in that general price point. This can help you really understand your options so you can start to picture your future home.
Finally, the best way to make you’re prepared for your purchase is to connect with trusted real estate professionals. Having expert advisors in the industry will help you make strong decisions throughout the homebuying process based on your specific goals, finances, and situation. They know the market and can guide you toward the home of your dreams.
If you’re ready to get the homebuying process started, let’s connect so you can begin to build your team of professionals today.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
While it’s exciting to start thinking about moving in and decorating after you’ve applied for your mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. Here’s a list of things you may not realize you need to avoid after applying for your home loan.
Lenders need to source your money, and cash isn’t easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.
It’s not just home-related purchases that could disqualify you from your loan. Any large purchases can be red flags for lenders. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios (how much debt you have compared to your monthly income). Since higher ratios make for riskier loans, borrowers may no longer qualify for their mortgage. Resist the temptation to make any large purchases, even for furniture or appliances.
When you cosign for a loan, you’re making yourself accountable for that loan’s success and repayment. With that obligation comes higher debt-to-income ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.
Lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is much easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car, when you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), it will have an impact on your FICO® score. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and possibly even your eligibility for approval.
Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. This isn’t true. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those aspects of your score.
Be upfront about any changes that occur or you’re expecting to occur when talking with your lender. Blips in income, assets or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. Ultimately, it’s best to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.
You want your home purchase to go as smoothly as possible. Remember, before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make major life changes, be sure to consult your lender – someone who’s qualified to explain how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, you probably want to know what’s really happening with home prices, mortgage rates, housing supply, and more. That’s not an easy task considering how sensationalized headlines are today. Jay Thompson, Real Estate Industry Consultant, explains:
“Housing market headlines are everywhere. Many are quite sensational, ending with exclamation points or predicting impending doom for the industry. Clickbait, the sensationalizing of headlines and content, has been an issue since the dawn of the internet, and housing news is not immune to it.”
Unfortunately, when information in the media isn’t clear, it can generate a lot of fear and uncertainty in the market. As Jason Lewris, Cofounder and Chief Data Officer at Parcl, says:
“In the absence of trustworthy, up-to-date information, real estate decisions are increasingly being driven by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Buying or selling a home is a big decision, and it should be one you feel confident making. To help you separate fact from fiction and get the answers you need, lean on a local real estate advisor.
A trusted expert is your best resource to understand what’s happening at the national and local levels. They’ll be able to debunk the headlines using data you can trust. And using their in-depth knowledge of the industry, they’ll provide context so you know how current trends compare to the normal ebbs and flows in the industry, historical data and more.
Then, to make sure you have the full picture, they’ll tell you if your local area is following the national trend or if they’re seeing something different in your market. Together, you’ll use all of that information to make the best possible decision for you.
After all, making a move is a potentially life-changing milestone. It should be something you feel ready for and excited about. And that’s where an agent comes in.
If you have questions about the headlines or what’s happening in the housing market today, let’s connect so you have expert insights and advice on your side.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
Mortgage rates have been a hot topic in the housing market over the past 12 months. Compared to the beginning of 2022, rates have risen dramatically. Now they’re dropping, and that has to do with everything happening in the economy.
Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains it well by saying:
“Mortgage rates dropped even further this week as two main factors affecting today’s mortgage market became more favorable. Inflation continued to ease while the Federal Reserve switched to a smaller interest rate hike. As a result, according to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 6.31% from 6.33% the previous week.”
So, what does that mean for your homeownership plans? As mortgage rates fluctuate, they impact your purchasing power by influencing the cost of buying a home. Even a small dip can help boost your purchasing power. Here’s how it works.
The median-priced home according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is $379,100. So, let’s assume you want to buy a $400,000 home. If you’re trying to shop at that price point and keep your monthly payment about $2,500-2,600 or below, here’s how your purchasing power can change as mortgage rates move up or down (see chart below). The red shows payments above that threshold and the green indicates a payment within your target range.
This goes to show, even a small quarter-point change in mortgage rates can impact your monthly mortgage payment. That’s why it’s important to work with a trusted real estate professional who follows what the experts are projecting for mortgage rates for the days, months, and year ahead.
Mortgage rates are likely to fluctuate depending on what happens with inflation moving forward, but they have dropped slightly in recent weeks. If a 7% rate was too high for you, it may be time to contact a lender to see if the current rate is more in line with your goal for a monthly housing expense.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
If you’re a homeowner, your net worth got a big boost over the past few years thanks to rapidly rising home prices. Here’s how it happened and what it means for you, even as the market moderates.
Equity is the current value of your home minus what you owe on the loan.
Because there was a significant imbalance between the number of homes available for sale and the number of buyers looking to make a purchase over the past few years, home prices appreciated substantially.
And while home price appreciation has moderated this year, and even depreciated slightly in some overheated markets, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost all the equity you gained during the pandemic frenzy.
To prove you still have equity you can use, the latest Homeowner Equity Insights from CoreLogic finds the average homeowner equity has actually grown by $34,300 over the past 12 months.
That’s right, despite the headlines, the average homeowner still gained positive equity over the last year in just about every market. While the gains aren’t as dramatic as they were in the previous quarter due to home price moderation, they’re still significant. And if you’ve been in your home for longer than a year, chances are you have even more equity than you realize.
While that’s the national number, if you want to know what happened over the past year in your area, look at the map below from CoreLogic:
While equity helps increase your overall net worth, it can also help you achieve other goals, like buying your next home. When you sell your current house, the equity you’ve built up comes back to you in the sale, and it may be just what you need to cover a large portion – if not all – of the down payment on your next home.
So, if you’ve been holding off on selling because you weren’t sure what the headlines meant for your bottom line, rest assured you’ve still gained equity in recent years, and it can help fuel your move.
If you’re planning to make a move, the equity you’ve gained over time can make a big impact. To find out just how much equity you have in your current home and how you can use it to fuel your next purchase, let’s connect.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
The 2022 housing market has been defined by two key things: inflation and rapidly rising mortgage rates. And in many ways, it’s put the market into a reset position.
As the Federal Reserve (the Fed) made moves this year to try to lower inflation, mortgage rates more than doubled – something that’s never happened before in a calendar year. This had a cascading impact on buyer activity, the balance between supply and demand, and ultimately home prices. And as all those things changed, some buyers and sellers put their plans on hold and decided to wait until the market felt a bit more predictable.
But what does that mean for next year? What everyone really wants is more stability in the market in 2023. For that to happen we’ll need to see the Fed bring inflation down even more and keep it there. Here’s what housing market experts say we can expect next year.
Moving forward, experts agree it’s still going to be all about inflation. If inflation is high, mortgage rates will be as well. But if inflation continues to fall, mortgage rates will likely respond. While there may be early signs inflation is easing as we round out this year, we’re not out of the woods just yet. Inflation is still something to watch in 2023.
Right now, experts are factoring all of this into their mortgage rate forecasts for next year. And if we average those forecasts together, experts say we can expect rates to stabilize a bit more in 2023. Whether that’s between 5.5% and 6.5%, it’s hard for experts to say exactly where they’ll land. But based on the average of their projections, a more predictable rate is likely ahead (see chart below):
That means, we’ll start the year out about where we are right now. But we could see rates tick down if inflation continues to drop. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains:
“. . . mortgage rates could pull back meaningfully next year if inflation pressures ease.”
In the meantime, expect some volatility as rates will likely fluctuate in the weeks ahead. If we see inflation come back under control, that would be good news for the housing market.
Homes prices will always be defined by supply and demand. The more buyers and fewer homes there are on the market, the more home prices will rise. And that’s exactly what we saw during the pandemic.
But this year, things changed. We’ve seen home prices moderate and housing supply grow as buyer demand pulled back due to higher mortgage rates. The level of moderation has varied by local area – with the biggest changes happening in overheated markets. But do experts think that will continue?
The graph below shows the latest home price forecasts for 2023. As the different colored bars indicate, some experts are saying home prices will appreciate next year, and others are saying home prices will come down. But again, if we take the average of all the forecasts (shown in green), we can get a feel for what 2023 may hold.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. That means nationally, we’ll likely see relatively flat or neutral appreciation in 2023. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:
“After a big boom over the past two years, there will essentially be no change nationally . . . Half of the country may experience small price gains, while the other half may see slight price declines.”
The 2023 housing market is going to be defined by mortgage rates, and rates will be determined by what happens with inflation. The best way to keep a pulse on what experts are projecting for next year is to lean on a trusted real estate advisor. Let’s connect.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
This is normal.
This is bold.
No matter what, be yourself.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
If you’re trying to decide whether or not to sell your house, recent headlines about home prices may be top of mind. And if those stories have you wondering what that means for your home’s value, here’s what you really need to know.
It’s possible you’ve seen news stories mentioning a drop in home values or home price depreciation, but it’s important to remember those headlines are designed to make a big impression in just a few words. But what headlines aren’t always great at is painting the full picture.
While home prices are down slightly month-over-month in some markets, it’s also true that home values are up nationally on a year-over-year basis. The graph below uses the latest data from S&P Case-Shiller to help tell the story of what’s actually happening in the housing market today:
As the graph shows, it’s true home price growth has moderated in recent months (shown in green) as buyer demand has pulled back in response to higher mortgage rates. This is what the headlines are drawing attention to today.
But what’s important to notice is the bigger, longer-term picture. While home price growth is moderating month-over-month, the percent of appreciation year-over-year is still well above the home price change we saw during more normal years in the market.
The bars for January 2019 through mid-2020 show home price appreciation around 3-4% a year was more typical (see bars for January 2019 through mid-2020). But even the latest data for this year shows prices have still climbed by roughly 10% over last year.
While you may not be able to capitalize on the 20% appreciation we saw in early 2022, in most markets your home’s value, on average, is up 10% over last year – and a 10% gain is still dramatic compared to a more normal level of appreciation (3-4%).
The big takeaway? Don’t let the headlines get in the way of your plans to sell. Over the past two years alone, you’ve likely gained a substantial amount of equity in your home as home prices climbed. Even though home price moderation will vary by market moving forward, you can still use the boost your equity got to help power your move.
As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says:
“Potential home sellers gained significant amounts of equity over the pandemic, so even as affordability-constrained buyer demand spurs price declines in some markets, potential sellers are unlikely to lose all that they have gained.”
If you have questions about home prices or how much equity you have in your current home, let’s connect so you have an expert’s advice.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
Did the frequency and intensity of bidding wars over the past two years make you put your home search on hold? If so, you should know the hyper competitive market has cooled this year as buyer demand has moderated and housing supply has grown. Those two factors combined mean you may see less competition from other buyers.
And with less competition comes more opportunity. Here are two trends that may be the news you need to reenter the market.
Over the last two years, more buyers were willing to skip important steps in the homebuying process, like the appraisal or the inspection, in hopes of gaining an advantage in a bidding war. But now, things are different.
The latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the percentage of buyers waiving their home inspection or appraisal is down. And a recent article from realtor.com points out more sellers are accepting contingencies:
“A year ago, sellers were calling all the shots and buyers were launching legendary bidding wars, waiving contingencies, and paying for homes in cash. But now, the shoe is on the other foot, and 92% of home sellers are accepting some buyer-friendly terms (frequently related to home inspections, financing, or appraisals), . . .”
This doesn’t mean we’re in a buyers’ market now, but it does mean you have a bit more leverage when it comes time to negotiate with a seller. The days of feeling like you may need to waive contingencies or pay drastically over asking price to get your offer considered may be coming to a close.
Before the pandemic, it was a common negotiation tactic for sellers to cover some of the buyer’s closing costs to sweeten the deal. This didn’t happen as much during the peak buyer frenzy over the past two years.
Today, data suggests this is making a comeback. A realtor.com survey shows 32% of sellers paid some or all of their buyer’s closing costs. This may be a negotiation tool you’ll see as you go to purchase a home. Just keep in mind, limits on closing cost credits are set by your lender and can vary by state and loan type. Work closely with your loan advisor to understand how much a seller can contribute to closing costs in your area.
Despite the extremely competitive housing market of the past several years, today’s data suggests negotiations are starting to come back to the table. To find out how the market is shifting in our area, let’s connect today.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
At first glance, the increase in housing supply compared to last year may not sound like good news for prospective sellers, but it actually gives you two key opportunities in today’s housing market.
An article from Calculated Risk helps put the inventory gains the market has seen in 2022 into perspective by comparing it to recent years (see graph below). It shows supply has surpassed 2021 levels by 58%. But the further back you look, the more you’ll understand the bigger picture. And if you go all the way back to 2019, the last normal year in real estate, we’re roughly 35% below the housing supply we had at that time.
If your current house no longer meets your needs or lacks the space and features you want, this inventory growth gives you even more opportunity to sell and move into the home of your dreams. With more houses on the market, you’ll have more to choose from when you search for your next home.
Partnering with a local real estate professional can help you make sure you’re up to date on the homes available in your area. And when you do find the one, a professional can advise you on how to write a winning offer.
But again, despite the growth, inventory is still low compared to more normal years, and that isn’t going to change overnight. For you, that means your house should still be in demand among potential buyers if you price it right.
As an article from realtor.com says:
“Today’s shoppers generally have more homes to consider than last year’s shoppers did, but the market is still not back to pre-pandemic inventory levels.”
If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, you have more homes to choose from and can still sell your house while inventory is low overall. Let’s connect to get started, so you can have the best of both worlds.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
There’s no denying mortgage rates are higher now than they were last year. And if you’re thinking about buying a home, this may be top of mind for you. That’s because those higher rates impact how much it costs to borrow money for your home loan. As you set out to make a purchase this winter, you’ll need to be strategic so you can find a home that meets your needs and budget.
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:
“The key to making a good decision in this challenging housing market is to be laser focused on what you need now and in the years ahead, . . . Another key point is to avoid stretching your budget, as tempting as it may be given the diminished purchasing power.”
In other words, it’s important to be mindful of what’s a necessity and what’s a nice-to-have when searching for a home. And the best way to understand this is to put together a list of desired features for your home search.
The first step? Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval helps you better understand what you can borrow for your home loan, and that plays an important role in how you’ll craft your list. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a home that’s out of reach. Once you have a good grasp of your budget, you can begin to list (and prioritize) all the features of a home you would like.
Here’s a great way to think about them before you begin:
Finally, once you’ve created your list and categorized it in a way that works for you, discuss it with your real estate advisor. They’ll be able to help you refine the list further, coach you through the best way to stick to it, and find a home in your area that meets your needs.
Putting together your list of necessary features for your next home might seem like a small task, but it’s a crucial first step on your homebuying journey today. If you’re ready to find a home that fits your needs, let’s connect.Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters
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