In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.
We are, however, in anything but a “normal market” right now. The media is full of stories about an impending recession, a trade war with China, and constant political upheaval. Each of these potential situations could dramatically impact the real estate market. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’
A Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.
They are much more than just guides.
This is much more than a normal real estate market.
The average guide just won’t do. You need a ‘Sherpa.’ You need an expert who understands what is happening in the market and why it is happening. You need someone who can simply and effectively explain it to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, even in these challenging times.
Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:
“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”
Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.
Many people plan to build their net worth by buying CDs or stocks, or just having a savings account. Recently, however, Economist Jonathan Eggleston and Survey Statistician Donald Hays, both of the U.S. Census Bureau,shared the biggest determinants of wealth,
“The biggest determinants of household wealth [are] owning a home and having a retirement account.” (Shown in the graph above).
This does not come as a surprise, as we often mention that homeownership can help you to increase your family’s wealth. This study reinforces that idea,
“Net worth is an important indicator of economic well-being and provides insights into a household’s economic health.”
Having equity in your home can help your family move in that direction, building toward substantial financial growth. According to the report noted above, people are not only creating net worth in the homes they live in, but many are also earning equity in rental property investments too. (See below):
While a recent announcement from CNBC shares that the average national FICO® score has reached an all-time high of 706, the good news for potential buyers is that you don’t need a score that high to qualify for a mortgage. Let’s unpack the credit score myth so you can to become a homeowner sooner than you may think.
With today’s low interest rates, many believe now is a great time to buy – and rightfully so! Fannie Mae recently noted that 58% of Americans surveyed say it is a good time to buy. Similarly, the Q3 2019 HOME Survey by the National Association of Realtors said 63% of people believe now is a good time to buy a home. Unfortunately, fear and misinformation often hold qualified and motivated buyers back from taking the leap into homeownership.
“For the first time, the average national credit score has reached 706, according to FICO®, the developer of one of the most commonly used scores by lenders.”
This is great news, as it means Americans are improving their credit scores and building toward a stronger financial future, especially after the market tumbled during the previous decade. With today’s strong economy and increasing wages, many Americans have had the opportunity to improve their credit over the past few years, driving this national average up.
Since Americans with stronger credit are now entering the housing market, we are seeing an increase in the FICO® Score Distribution of Closed Loans (see graph above).
But hang on – don’t forget that this does not mean you need a FICO® score over 700 to qualify for a mortgage. Here’s what Experian, the global leader in consumer and business credit reporting, says:
FHA Loan:“FHA loans are ideal for those who have less-than-perfect credit and may not be able to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan. The size of your required down payment for an FHA loan depends on the state of your credit score: If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you must put 10% down. If your credit score is 580 or above, you can put as little as 3.5% down (but you can put down more if you want to).”
Conventional Loan:“It’s possible to get approved for a conforming conventional loan with a credit score as low as 620, although some lenders may look for a score of 660 or better.”
USDA Loan: “While the USDA doesn’t have a set credit score requirement, most lenders offering USDA-guaranteed mortgages require a score of at least 640.”
VA Loan:“As with income levels, lenders set their own minimum credit requirements for VA loanborrowers. Lenders are likely to check credit scores as part of their screening process, and most will set a minimum score, or cutoff, that loan applicants must exceed to be considered.”
As you can see, plenty of loans are granted to buyers with a FICO® score that is lower than the national average. If you’d like to understand the next steps to take when determining your credit score, let’s get together so you can learn more.
According to the ‘2019 Home Buyer Report’ conducted by Nerdwallet, many first-time buyers still believe they need a 20% down payment to buy a home in today’s market:
“More than 6 in 10 (62%) Americans believe you must put at least 20% down in order to purchase a home.”
When potential homebuyers think they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also tend to think they’ll have to wait several years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes. The report continues to say,
“The truth: 32% of current U.S. homeowners put 5% or less down on their home, according to census data.” (as shown above).
The lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is unfortunately keeping many motivated buyers on the sidelines.
Don’t let a lack of understanding keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s get together to discuss your options today.
2. Pending Home Sales (contracts signed) are up with each of the four major regions reporting both month-over-month growth and year-over-year gains in contract activity. Here is the month-over-month growth:
The Northeast rose 0.7%
The Midwest increased 0.6%
The South increased 1.4%
The West grew 3.1%
3. Buyer Traffic (the number of people shopping for a home) is up compared to the same time last year, and for the first time in 13 months.
The Northeast is up 5.9%
The Midwest increased 1.3%
The South is up 2.7%
The West grew 2.2%
In their most recent report, ShowingTimeChief Analytics Officer, Daniil Cherkasskiy explained:
“The trend we saw in year-over-year buyer traffic in previous months continued across the United States. For all four regions there were more showings per listing this year compared to last year, making it the most competitive August in the last five years.”
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist with the National Association of Realtors, believes the uptick in activity will continue into the future:
“It is very encouraging that buyers are responding to exceptionally low interest rates…With interest rates expected to remain low, home sales are forecasted to rise in the coming months and into 2020.”
If you are thinking about selling your house, there are purchasers out there who are ready, willing, and able to buy.
You made an offer and it was accepted. Your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Agents often recommend you make your offer contingent upon a clean home inspection.
This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you offered for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or in some cases, walk away if challenges arise. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.
How to Choose an Inspector
Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors they’ve worked with in the past to recommend to you. HGTV suggests you consider the following five areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:
1. Qualifications – Find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
2. Sample Reports – Ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. In most cases, the more detailed the report, the better.
3. References – Do your homework. Ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to discuss their experiences.
4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations does, however, often mean continued training and education are required.
5. Errors and Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human, after all, and it is possible they might miss something they should see.
Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, so they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.
Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, fireplace and chimney, foundation, and so much more.
They say, ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible, so you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.
The price of any item is determined by supply, as well as the market’s demand for the item. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.
Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand).
The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”
The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 3 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now very strong; only 2 of the 50 states have a ‘weak’ demand. Overall, buyer demand is slightly lower than this time last year but remains strong.
The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”
As the map below shows, 18 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 29 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 3 states reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are looking for homes.
Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in our market now.
According to CoreLogic, from 2006 to 2014 “there were 7.3 million housing foreclosures and 1.9 million short sales.” The hesitation some Americans feel after experiencing a foreclosure brings to mind the old saying: “Fool me once- shame on you. Fool me twice- shame on me.”
“Thirteen percent of Americans have lost a home due to a financial event such as foreclosure in the past 10 years. More than 6 in 10 of them (61%) have not bought a home since, and 20% of those who haven’t repurchased say they never plan to again.”
This makes sense. They don’t want to go through the same pain again. As a cornerstone of the American dream, nobody wants to lose homeownership. But let’s illustrate this simply: Recall learning to ride your first bike during your childhood. Did you stop riding it because you fell on the ground and scraped your knees? Or did you get back on and try again until you were able to ride without falling?
Purchasing a home is not as simple as learning to ride a bike, but the concept is the same! There are many things necessary to learn that affect the ability to get the financing needed to purchase a home. Past occurrences can determine if there is a waiting period. In other words, you need to let your knees heal before you try again!
As we’ve mentioned in the past, homeownership has many financial and non-financial benefits. Each person needs to go over the pros and cons, taking the time to figure out what is best for their family. Should they continue renting, or should they try to buy again?
The good news is that some “boomerang buyers” are getting back into the market. They’re getting back on their bike!
“Of 2.8 million former homeowners whose foreclosures, short sales or bankruptcies dropped off their credit reports from January 2016 to November 2018, 11.5% have obtained a new mortgage, according to a study by credit rating agency Experian for USA Today.”
NerdWallet’s report also mentioned:
6% plan to buy a house this year.
39% intend to buy over the next 3 years.
58% say they will purchase within 5 years.
If you lost a home due to a financial event but would like to review your options, let’s get together to help you create a plan to obtain a home in the future!