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Americans See Real Estate as a Better Investment Than Stocks or Gold

21 May 2021 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

Last month, in a post on the Liberty Street Economics blog, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted that Americans believe buying a home is definitely or probably a better investment than buying stocks. Last week, a Gallup Poll reaffirmed those findings.

In an article on the current real estate market, Gallup reports:

“Gallup usually finds that Americans regard real estate as the best long-term investment among several options — seeing it as superior to stocks, gold, savings accounts and bonds. This year, 41% choose real estate as the best investment, up from 35% a year ago, with stocks a distant second.”

Here’s the breakdown:Americans See Real Estate as a Better Investment Than Stocks or Gold | Keeping Current MattersThe article goes on to say:

“The 41% choosing real estate is the highest selecting any of the five investment options in the 11 years Gallup has asked this question.”

Is real estate really a secure investment right now?

Some question American confidence in real estate as a good long-term investment right now. They fear that the build-up in home values may be mirroring what happened right before the housing crash a little more than a decade ago. However, according to Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs, the current real estate market is strong and sustainable.

As Morgan Stanley explains to their clients in a recent Thoughts on the Market podcast:

“Unlike 15 years ago, the euphoria in today’s home prices comes down to the simple logic of supply and demand. And we at Morgan Stanley conclude that this time the sector is on a sustainably, sturdy foundation . . . . This robust demand and highly challenged supply, along with tight mortgage lending standards, may continue to bode well for home prices. Higher interest rates and post pandemic moves could likely slow the pace of appreciation, but the upward trajectory remains very much on course.”

Bottom Line

America’s belief in the long-term investment value of homeownership has been, is, and will always be, very strong.

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Don’t Forget to Budget for Closing Costs

19 May 2021 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

When buying a home, it’s important to have a budget and make sure you plan ahead for certain homebuying expenses. Saving for a down payment is the main cost that comes to mind for many, but budgeting for the closing costs required to get a mortgage is just as important.

What Are Closing Costs?

According to Trulia:

When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”

For example, for someone buying a $300,000 home, they could potentially have between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing fees. If you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your closing costs could be greater. As mentioned above, closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price. 

Trulia gives more great advice, explaining:

“There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.

The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”

Bottom Line

As home prices are rising and more buyers are finding themselves competing in bidding wars, it’s more important than ever to make sure your plan includes budgeting for closing costs. Work with your lender and a local real estate professional to be sure you have everything you need to land your dream home.

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Your House Could Be the Oasis in an Inventory Desert

17 May 2021 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

Homebuyers are flooding the housing market right now to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates. Many have a sense of urgency to find a home soon since experts forecast a steady rise in both rates and home prices this year and next. As a result, buyer demand greatly outweighs the current housing supply. Here’s how the shortage of houses for sale sets yours up to be the oasis in an inventory desert.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), today’s housing inventory sits at an incredibly low 2.1-month supply, far below the 6-month mark for a neutral market. Inventory of single-family homes a year ago was already very low, and as you can see in the graph below, this year’s levels are even lower:Your House Could Be the Oasis in an Inventory Desert | Keeping Current MattersDue to these market conditions, today’s buyers frequently enter fierce bidding wars while trying to purchase a home. This in turn drives up home prices and gives sellers incredible leverage in the negotiation process, two big wins if you’re going to sell your house this year.

Bottom Line

In such a hot market, it can feel as though the supply of homes has virtually dried up, leaving buyers to wander in an inventory desert. That’s why there’s never been a better time to sell. To a parched buyer needing to secure a home as soon as possible, your house could be a true oasis.

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It’s Not Too Late To Apply For Forbearance

14 May 2021 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

Over the past year, the pandemic made it challenging for some homeowners to make their mortgage payments. Thankfully, the government initiated a forbearance program to provide much-needed support. Unless they’re extended once again, some of these plans and the corresponding mortgage payment deferral options will expire soon. That said, there’s still time to request assistance. If your loan is backed by HUD/FHA, USDA, or VA, you can apply for initial forbearance by June 30, 2021.

Recently, the Consumer Finance Institute of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia surveyed a national sample of 1,172 homeowners with mortgages. They discussed their familiarity with and understanding of lender accommodations that might be available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The results indicate that some borrowers didn’t take advantage of the support available through forbearance:

Most borrowers who had not used forbearance during the pandemic reported that it was because they simply did not need it. However, among the remainder, a lack of understanding about available accommodations may also be playing a role. Around 2 out of 3 in this group reported not seeking forbearance because they were unsure or pessimistic about whether they would qualify — even though a high fraction of borrowers are eligible for forbearance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.”

Here are some of the reasons why those borrowers didn’t opt for forbearance:

  • They were concerned forbearance may be costly
  • They didn’t understand how to request forbearance
  • They didn’t understand how the plans worked and/or whether they would qualify

If you have similar questions or concerns, the following answers may ease your fears.

If you’re concerned forbearance may be costly:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) explains:

For most loans, there will be no additional fees, penalties, or additional interest (beyond scheduled amounts) added to your account, and you do not need to submit additional documentation to qualify. You can simply tell your servicer that you have a pandemic-related financial hardship.”

It’s important to contact your mortgage provider (the company you send your mortgage payment to every month) to explain your current situation and determine the best plan available for your needs.

If you’re not sure how to request forbearance:

Here are 5 steps to follow when requesting mortgage forbearance:

  1. Find the contact information for your servicer
  2. Call your servicer
  3. Ask if you’re eligible for protection under the CARES Act
  4. Ask what happens when your forbearance period ends
  5. Ask your servicer to provide the agreement in writing

If you don’t understand how the plans work and/or whether you will qualify:

This is how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) explains the program:

Forbearance is when your mortgage servicer or lender allows you to pause or reduce your mortgage payments for a limited time while you build back your finances

Forbearance doesn’t mean your payments are forgiven or erased. You are still obligated to repay any missed payments, which, in most cases, may be repaid over time or when you refinance or sell your home. Before the end of the forbearance, your servicer will contact you about how to repay the missed payments.”

The CFPB also addresses who qualifies for forbearance relief:

You may have a right to a COVID hardship forbearance if:

  • You experience financial hardship directly or indirectly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • You have a federally backed mortgage, which includes HUD/FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac loans.

For mortgages that are not federally backed, servicers may offer similar forbearance options. If you are struggling to make your mortgage payments, servicers are generally required to discuss payment relief options with you, whether or not your loan is federally backed.”

Bottom Line

Like many Americans, your home may be your biggest asset. By acting quickly, you might be able to take advantage of critical relief options to help keep you in your home. Even if you tried to apply at the beginning of the pandemic and it for some reason didn’t work out, try again. Contact your mortgage provider today to determine if you qualify. If you have additional concerns, contact a local real estate professional to ask your questions and determine if there are other mortgage relief options in your area as well.

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Experts Say Home Prices Will Continue to Appreciate

12 May 2021 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

It’s clear that consumers are concerned about how quickly home values are rising. Many people fear the speed of appreciation may lead to a crash in prices later this year. In fact, Google reports that the search for “When is the housing market going to crash?” has actually spiked 2450% over the past month.

In addition, Jim Dalrymple II of Inman News notes:

“One of the most noteworthy things that came up in Inman’s conversations with agents was that every single one said they’ve had conversations with clients about whether or not the market is heading into a bubble.”

To alleviate some of these concerns, let’s look at what several financial analysts are saying about the current residential real estate market. Within the last thirty days, four of the major financial services giants came to the same conclusion: the housing market is strong, and price appreciation will continue. Here are their statements on the issue:

Goldman Sachs’ Research Note on Housing:

“Strong demand for housing looks sustainable. Even before the pandemic, demographic tailwinds and historically-low mortgage rates had pushed demand to high levels. … consumer surveys indicate that household buying intentions are now the highest in 20 years. … As a result, the model projects double-digit price gains both this year and next.”

Joe Seydl, Senior Markets EconomistJ.P.Morgan:

“Homebuyers—interest rates are still historically low, though they are inching up. Housing prices have spiked during the last six-to-nine months, but we don’t expect them to fall soon, and we believe they are more likely to keep rising. If you are looking to purchase a new home, conditions now may be better than 12 months hence.”

Morgan Stanley, Thoughts on the Market Podcast:

“Unlike 15 years ago, the euphoria in today’s home prices comes down to the simple logic of supply and demand. And we at Morgan Stanley conclude that this time the sector is on a sustainably, sturdy foundation . . . . This robust demand and highly challenged supply, along with tight mortgage lending standards, may continue to bode well for home prices. Higher interest rates and post pandemic moves could likely slow the pace of appreciation, but the upward trajectory remains very much on course.”

Merrill Lynch’s Capital Market Outlook:

“There are reasons to believe that this is likely to be an unusually long and strong housing expansion. Demand is very strong because the biggest demographic cohort in history is moving through the household-formation and peak home-buying stages of its life cycle. Coronavirus-related preference changes have also sharply boosted home buying demand. At the same time, supply is unusually tight, with available homes for sale at record-low levels. Double-digit price gains are rationing the supply.”

Bottom Line

If you’re concerned about making the decision to buy or sell right now, contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss what’s happening in your local market.

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3 Graphs Showing Why You Should Sell Your House Now

10 May 2021 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

There’s no doubt that 2021 is the year of the seller when it comes to the housing market. If you’re a homeowner thinking of moving to better suit your changing needs, now is the perfect time to do so. Low mortgage rates are in your favor when you’re ready to purchase your dream home, and high buyer demand may give you the leverage you need to negotiate the best contract terms on the sale of your house. Here’s a look at what’s driving this sellers’ advantage and why there’s so much opportunity for homeowners who are ready to move this season.

1. Historically Low Inventory

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

 “Total housing inventory at the end of March amounted to 1.07 million units, up 3.9% from February’s inventory . . . Unsold inventory sits at a 2.1-month supply at the current sales pace, marginally up from February’s 2.0-month supply and down from the 3.3-month supply recorded in March 2020.”

Even with a slight rise in the number of houses for sale this spring, inventory remains near an all-time low (See graph below):3 Graphs Showing Why You Should Sell Your House Now | Keeping Current MattersHigh buyer interest is creating a major imbalance between supply and demand, but as the small uptick in inventory shows, sellers are beginning to reenter the market. Selling your house now enables you to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house – before more listings come to the market later this year.

2. Frequent Bidding Wars

As a result of the supply and demand imbalance, homebuyers are entering bidding wars at an accelerating rate. NAR reports the average number of bids received on the most recently closed sales is 4.8 offers. This number has doubled since the first quarter of 2020 (See graph below):3 Graphs Showing Why You Should Sell Your House Now | Keeping Current MattersAs buyers face increasingly tough competition while searching for homes to purchase, they’re more likely to be flexible and generous in their negotiations. This gives a seller the opportunity to choose the best buyer for their needs and be selective about things like time to close, contingencies, renovations, and more. Working with your trusted agent is the best way to determine how to navigate the negotiation process when selling your house.

3. Days on the Market

In today’s market, sellers aren’t waiting very long to find a buyer for their house, either. NAR reports:

Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in March, down from 20 days in February and from 29 days in March 2020. 83% of the homes sold in March 2021 were on the market for less than a month.” (See graph below):

3 Graphs Showing Why You Should Sell Your House Now | Keeping Current MattersNAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun explains:

“The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory…Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about moving, these three graphs clearly show that it’s a great time to sell your house. Contact a real estate professional today to learn more about the opportunities in your local area.

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Why Waiting to Buy a Home Could Cost You a Small Fortune

06 May 2021 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

Many people are sitting on the fence trying to decide if now’s the time to buy a home. Some are renters who have a strong desire to become homeowners but are unsure if buying right now makes sense. Others may be homeowners who are realizing that their current home no longer fits their changing needs.

To determine if they should buy now or wait another year, they both need to ask two simple questions:

  1. Do I think home values will be higher a year from now?
  2. Do I think mortgage rates will be higher a year from now?

Let’s shed some light on the answers to these questions.

Where will home prices be a year from now?

If you average the most recent projections from the major industry forecasters, the expectation is home prices will increase by 7.7%. Let’s take a house that’s valued today at $325,000 as an example.

If the buyer makes a 10% down payment ($32,500), they’ll end up borrowing $292,500 for their mortgage. Applying the projected rate of home price appreciation, that same house will cost $350,025 next year. With a 10% down payment ($35,003), they’d then have to borrow $315,022.

Therefore, as a result of rising home prices alone, a prospective buyer will have to put down an additional $2,503 and borrow an additional $22,523 just for waiting a year to make their move.

Where will mortgage rates be a year from now?

Today, mortgage rates are hovering around 3%. However, most experts believe they’ll rise as the economy continues to recover. Any increase in the mortgage rate will also increase a purchaser’s cost. Here are the forecasts for the first quarter of 2022 from four major entities:

The projections average out to 3.6% among these four forecasts, a jump up from where they are today.

What does it mean to you if home values and mortgage rates increase?

A buyer will pay a lot more in mortgage payments each month if both of these variables increase. Assuming a buyer purchases a $325,000 home this year with a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 3% after making a 10% down payment, their monthly principal and interest payment would be $1,233.

That same home one year from now could be $350,025, and the mortgage rate could be 3.6% (based on the industry forecasts mentioned above). That monthly principal and interest payment, after putting down 10%, totals $1,432.

The difference in the monthly mortgage payment would be $199. That’s $2,388 more per year and $71,640 over the life of the loan.

Add to that the approximately $25,000 a house with a similar value would build in home equity this year as a result of home price appreciation, and the total net worth increase a purchaser could gain by buying this year is nearly $100,000. That’s a small fortune.

Bottom Line

When asking if they should buy a home, many potential buyers think of the nonfinancial benefits of owning a home. When asking when to buy, the financial benefits make it clear that doing so now is much more advantageous than waiting until next year.

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Some Buyers Prefer Smaller Homes

23 Apr 2021 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

Over the past year, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to reflect on what we consider most important in our lives. The place we call home is one of the biggest things many of us are reevaluating. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, shares:

“The very nature of the pandemic, through the health implications, social distancing, and need to isolate, has really brought a central focus on the importance of home for most Americans…In a sense, it has elevated real estate markets as a centerpiece of our lives.”

For some, this has spurred an interest in making a move to a home that better suits our changing needs. In a recent study on today’s homebuyer preferences, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) states:

“When asked more specifically how the pandemic may have impacted their preference for home size21% or about 1 out of every 5 buyers, do want a larger home now as a direct result of the health crisis, while another segment – 12% – would prefer a smaller one instead.”

While you might expect more time at home to lead to a need for more space, it’s interesting that a significant portion of homeowners actually want less. For those who own larger homes right now and have a desire to move, today’s housing market is full of opportunities. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comexplains:

“In a real estate market that is tipped in the favor of sellers, boomers and older homeowners are really the ones holding the cards…Those who are selling homes can use the profits to help them buy new ones.”

As a homeowner today, you likely have equity that can be put toward the purchase of your next home. With the equity growth homes have seen over the past year, you may have more than you think, which can help significantly as you make a move into your next home. According to a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Home sellers cited that they sold their homes for a median of $66,000 more than they purchased it. Sellers 22 to 30 years gained the least at $33,400 in equity compared to sellers 66 to 74 years gained $100,000 in equity as they likely had lived in their homes for a longer period of time.”

Despite the benefits of growing home equity, some homeowners are still hesitant to move and could be considering remodeling or making changes to their current space instead. However, if you’ve thought about aging in place rather than downsizing, you may want to reconsider. The U.S. Census Bureau points out:

Of the nation’s 115 million housing units, only 10% are ready to accommodate older populations.”

If your house is no longer the best fit for your evolving needs, it may be time to put your equity to work for you and downsize to the home you really want.

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market favors homeowners who are ready to sell their houses and make a move. If you’re thinking about downsizing this year, contact a real estate professional to better understand the options in your local market.

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