buyers

3 Questions to Ask If You Want to Buy Your Dream Home

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.

Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place? 

This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

For example, a survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”

This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in December (the latest data available) was $232,200, up 4.0% from last year. This increase also marks the 58th consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

If we look at the numbers year over year, CoreLogic forecasted a rise by 4.7% from December 2016 to December 2017. On a home that costs $250,000 today, that same home will cost you an additional $11,750 if you wait until next year.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, with prices increasing each month, it might cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy.

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors, and Fannie Mae have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below:

3 Questions to Ask If You Want to Buy Your Dream Home | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

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4 Reasons to Buy BEFORE Winter Hits

4 Reasons to Buy BEFORE Winter Hits | Simplifying The Market

Monday October 12th, 2015 First Time Home Buyers, For Buyers, Move-Up Buyers

It’s that time of year; the seasons are changing and with them bring thoughts of the upcoming holidays, family get-togethers, and planning for a new year. Those who are on the fence about whether now is the right time to buy don’t have to look much farther to find four great reasons to consider buying a home now, instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report released recently projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 10.5% (most pessimistic) and 25.5% (most optimistic).

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise later this year. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a recent paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

The Cost of Waiting to Buy a Home

The Cost of Waiting to Buy a Home | Simplifying The Market

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released their July edition of the Housing Affordability Index. The index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national level based on the most recent price and income data.

NAR looks at the monthly mortgage payment (principal & interest) which is determined by the median sales price and mortgage interest rate at the time. With that information, NAR calculates the income necessary for a family to qualify for that mortgage amount (based on a 25% qualifying ratio for monthly housing expense to gross monthly income and a 20% down payment).

Here is a graph of the income needed to buy a median priced home in the country over the last several years:

Qualifying Income | Simplifying The Market

And the income requirement has accelerated even more dramatically this year as prices have risen:

Qualifications | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Some buyers may be waiting to save up a larger down payment. Others may be waiting for a promotion and more money. Just realize that, while you are waiting, the requirements are also changing.

What Do You Really Need to Qualify for a Mortgage?

ESPAÑOL VERSION

What Do You Really Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | Keeping Current Matters

A recent survey by Ipsos found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is actually necessary to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. The study pointed out two major misconceptions that we want to address today.

1. Down Payment

The survey revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the report, 36% think a 20% down payment is always required. In actuality, there are many loans written with a down payment of 3% or less.

Here are the results from a Digital Risk survey done on Millennials:

Millennials Down Payments | Keeping Current Matters

2. FICO Scores

The Ipsos survey also reported that two-thirds of the respondents believe they need a very good credit score to buy a home, with 45 percent thinking a “good credit score” is over 780. In actuality, the average FICO scores of approved conventional and FHA mortgages are much lower.

Here are the numbers from a recent Ellie Mae report:

FICO Score Of Approved Loans | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are a prospective purchaser who is ‘ready’ and ‘willing’ to buy but not sure if you are also ‘able’, sit down with someone who can help you understand your true options.

Should I Wait to Put Down a Bigger Down Payment?

ESPAÑOL VERSION

Should I Wait to Put Down a Bigger Down Payment? | Keeping Current Matters

Some experts are advising that first time and move-up buyers wait until they save up 20% before they move forward with their decision to purchase a home. One of the main reasons they suggest waiting is that a buyer must purchase private mortgage insurance if they have less than the 20%. That increases the monthly payment the buyer will be responsible for.

In a recent article, Freddie Mac explained what this would mean for a $200,000 house:

Difference Between a 5% and 20% Down Payment | Keeping Current Matters

However, we must look at other aspects of the purchase to see if it truly makes sense to wait.

Are you actually saving money by waiting?

CoreLogic has recently projected that home values will increase by 4.3% over the next 12 months. Let’s compare the extra cost of PMI against the projected appreciation:

PMI vs Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters

If you decide to wait until you have saved up a 20% down payment, the money you would have saved by avoiding the PMI payment could be surpassed by the additional price you eventually pay for the home. Prices are expected to increase by more than 3% each of the next five years.

Saving will also be more difficult if you are renting, as rents are also projected to increase over the next several years. Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell explained in a recent report:

“Our research found that unaffordable rents are making it hard for people to save for a down payment … There are good reasons to rent temporarily – when you move to a new city, for example – but from an affordability perspective, rents are crazy right now. If you can possibly come up with a down payment, then it’s a good time to buy a home and start putting your money toward a mortgage.”

Laura Kusisto of the Wall Street Journal recently agreed with Dr. Gudell:

“For some renters there may be a way out: Buy a house. Mortgages remain very affordable.”

Mortgage rates are expected to rise…

Freddie Mac is projecting that mortgage interest rates will increase by almost a full percentage point over the next 12 months. That will also impact your mortgage payment if you wait.

Bottom Line

Sit with a real restate or mortgage professional to truly understand whether you should buy now or wait until you save the 20%.

Don’t Get Caught In The Renter’s Trap

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Don't Get Caught In The Renter's Trap | Simplifying The Market

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of top ones is being able to protect yourself from rising rents and lock in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their findings of a study in which they studied“income growth, housing costs and changes in the share of renter and owner-occupied households over the past five years in metropolitan statistical areas throughout the US.”

Don’t Become Trapped

The study revealed that over the last five years a typical rent rose 15% while the income of renters grew by only 11%. If you are currently renting, this disparity in growth could get you caught up in a cycle where increasing rents continue to make it impossible for you to save for a necessary down payment.

The average renter in the United States pays 30% of their income on housing compared to that of a homeowner who can expect to spend 15%.

In many metro areas the percentage of income spent on housing is even higher and continues to rise every year. Like in San Francisco, CA, where the average renter spends 59% of their monthly income on housing or nearly 65% in Boston, MA.

Homebuyers who purchased their home over the same five-year period locked in their housing costs and were able to grow their net worth as home values have increased and their mortgage balances have gone down.

Know Your Options

Perhaps, you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire reported that analysts at Nomura believe:

“It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment.

It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)

As we have reported last week, over 60% of Millennials who recently bought a home put down less than 20%; 36% put down less than 5%. Your dream home may be more attainable than you ever imagined!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible to get a mortgage.

Are Home Values REALLY at Record Levels?

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Are Home Values REALLY at Record Levels? | Simplifying The Market

Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Home Sales Report. The report announced that the median existing-home price in June was $236,400. That value surpasses the peak median sales price set in July 2006 ($230,400). This revelation created many headlines exclaiming that home prices had hit a “new record”:

Wall Street Journal: Existing-Home Prices Hit Record

USA Today: Existing home sales surge, prices hit record

Though the headlines are accurate, we want to take a closer look at the story. We do not want people to believe that this information is evidence that a new “price bubble” is forming in housing.

NAR reports the median home price. That means that 50% of the homes sold above that number and 50% sold below that number. With fewer distressed properties (lower valued) now selling, the median price will rise. The median value does not reflect that each individual property is increasing in value.

Below are the comments from Bill McBride, the author of the esteemed economic blog Calculated Risk. McBride talks about the challenges with using the median price and also explains that in “real” prices (taking into consideration inflation) we are nowhere close to a record.

“In general I’d ignore the median sales price because it is impacted by the mix of homes sold (more useful are the repeat sales indexes like Case-Shiller or CoreLogic). NAR reported the median sales price was $236,400 in June, above the median peak of $230,400 in July 2006. That is 9 years ago, so in real terms, median prices are close to 20% below the previous peak. Not close.”

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal covered this issue in detail. In this story, Nick Timiraos explained that this rise in median prices is nothing to be concerned about:

“Does this mean we have another problem on our hands? Not really…There may be other reasons to worry about housing affordability by comparing prices with incomes or prices with rents for a given market. But crude comparisons of nominal home prices with their 2006 and 2007 levels shouldn’t be used to make cavalier claims about a new bubble.”

Bottom Line

Home values are appreciating. However, they are not increasing at a rate that we should have fears of a new housing bubble around the corner.

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