Why Home Buyers Need to Hurry

While there have been signs recently that the market may be shifting toward the favor of home buyers, prices are still on the rise in many areas around the country. The median sales price in July was $230,411, up 5.8 percent year over year.

But if buyers are hoping to wait it out, remember that mortgage rates are also increasing. The typical mortgage payment jumped 13.1 percent over that same one-year period, due to a nearly 0.6 percentage point increase in mortgage rates, according to new data from CoreLogic, a real estate research firm.

Mortgage rates are expected to keep rising, too. CoreLogic researchers predict a nearly 10 percent increase in buyers’ mortgage payments by next July, twice the rate expected for home prices. Rates are expected to increase by about 0.43 percentage points between July 2018 and July 2019. Housing forecasters predict median home sale prices to continue to rise by 1.8 percent in real terms over that same period.

Based on these projections, CoreLogic researchers predict the inflation-adjusted typical monthly mortgage payment to rise from $937 in July 2018 to $1,003 by July 2019. Furthermore, real disposable income is expected to increase by only around 2.5 percent over the next year. That means “home buyers would see a larger chunk of their incomes devoted to mortgage payments,” CoreLogic researchers note.

To calculate the typical mortgage payment, CoreLogic researchers use Freddie Mac’s average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment (not factoring in taxes or insurance). The typical mortgage payment standard is used to help judge affordability since it shows the monthly amount a borrower would have to qualify for to get a mortgage to purchase a median-priced U.S. home.

Nevertheless, while mortgage payments are on the rise, they’re still low by historical standards, CoreLogic researchers note. In July 2018, the typical inflation-adjusted mortgage payment still remained 26.8 percent below the all-time peak of $1,280 in July 2006. The average mortgage rate in June 2006 was 6.7 percent compared to 4.5 percent in July 2018.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

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Homeowners Putting the Brakes on Remodeling

As the housing market slows, homeowners are halting their plans to upgrade their home. The booming housing market had been making homeowners feel like investing their growing equity into sprucing up their homes. Remodeling activity climbed to a decade high of 7.7 percent this year, according to a new report from Harvard University’s Joint Center of Housing Studies. But it predicts a slowdown over the coming months as the overall housing market eases.

“Low for-sale inventories are presenting a headwind because home sales tend to spur investments in remodeling and repair both before a sale and in the years following,” says Chris Herbert, the Joint Center’s director. Herbert also points to rising interest rates that are making buying a home more challenging for many Americans. This increase in rates also has an impact on the cost of tapping into home equity lines when funding big remodeling projects.

Credit Suisse downgraded shares of home remodeler retailers’ stocks due to the slower growth in home prices and projections of a slowing remodeling business. “Home prices have been a key driver of big-ticket projects, supporting strong average ticket growth,” Credit Suisse analysts write.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

The 5 C’s of Credit and What They Mean for a Home Loan

You’ve researched the neighborhood and spent hours scouring listings online. You know the best zip codes and school zones and are ready for the next step in the home buying process – getting pre-approval from your mortgage lender.

There is a lot that goes into determining if you qualify for a loan, but most traditional lenders will consider these five categories:

  1. Character

Your credit score will tell lenders about your character and your credit history. Do you pay your bills on time? Are your accounts in good standing? If your credit score is poor, you should focus on improving it before applying for a home loan.

  1. Capacity

This category measures your ability to pay back your loan. Your income, and your job stability, will come into play here, as well your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Your DTI is calculated by dividing total recurring monthly debt by gross monthly income. A ratio over 36 percent could mean you’ll pay more interest or that you will be denied a loan. If your DTI is over 36 percent, you should focus on lowering it by paying down your current debt, not taking on more debt and avoiding big purchases, such as a car, on credit before you buy a home.

  1. Capital

Capital refers to the money you have, or will have, to purchase your new home. Buyers with a down payment will have a better chance of obtaining a loan but a down payment is not a necessity. There are various loan programs that do not require a down payment.

  1. Collateral

In the case of home loans, collateral is the home itself. If you default on the mortgage, the bank will seize the home – this is why a home appraisal is almost always required before obtaining a loan.

  1. Conditions

Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market in your area? What is the current interest rate? These are conditions that can impact home prices in your area as well as your ability to get into a home.

Getting pre-approval for a home loan can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Contact me, and I’ll be happy to help guide you and those you know through the process!

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3 bedrooms + den; 2.5 bathrooms; 2,180 square feet

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September 2018 RE/MAX National Housing Report

The September 2018 RE/MAX National Housing Report shows home sales took a 12% tumble while prices remain at record levels.

“The big drop in September closings catches your attention. The market is clearly rebalancing as buyers and sellers continue to process the increasing interest rate environment and what that means to them,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “The slower drop in inventory – a visible trend for nearly half a year – further illustrates the ongoing shift toward market equilibrium, and that’s healthy in the long-term.”

  1. Home Sales
    The report showed trends of fewer closings and stabilizing inventory that continued through September, punctuated by a surprisingly big 11.6% year-over-year drop in home sales.
  2. Record Prices
    September 2018 posted a Median Sales Price of $241,000 that marked the 30th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases – the price is also the highest September price in the 10-year history of the report. Home prices rose by 5.6% over September 2017, more than twice the year-over-year price increase of 2.3% from September 2016 to September 2017. That reversed a trend seen in the previous three months, when year-over-year price increases trailed 2017’s rate of growth.
  3. Low Inventory
    The number of homes for sale in September 2018 was down 1.0% from August 2018 and down 4.7% from September 2017. Based on the rate of home sales in September, the Months Supply of Inventory increased to 3.7 from 3.0 in August 2018, and increased compared to September 2017 at 3.6.

“It’s a little surprising to see prices staying so strong, but it’s hardly shocking in such a tight market,” added Contos. “The headwinds of rising prices and interest rates amid already tight inventory levels have been crimping affordability and slowing sales for most of the year, but it varies by geography. In circumstances like these, where the market is tricky to navigate, both buyers and sellers can benefit by aligning themselves with a professional agent – a local expert who can cut through the noise and advocate on their behalf.”

Watch the 40 second summary video on YouTube

5 Reasons Buyers Should House Hunt in the Fall

The frenzy of the summer real estate market has cooled by the seemingly very same breeze sweeping leaves off the trees across much of the country. But now may be a better time than ever for buyers to do their house hunting.

According to RealtyTrac and realtor.com®, October is the best time to snag a deal on a house. RealtyTrac analyzed more than 32 million sales of single-family homes and condos between 2000 and 2015, finding that those who purchased in October paid 2.6 percent below the average estimated full market value for their property.

If buyers need more reason to start or continue their home search this fall, here are five additional reasons to shop for a home now from Lindsay Szwed, an agent with RE/MAX Suburban in the Chicago area.

Market Shifting to Buyers’ Favor

A housing market defined by rapidly rising home prices, bidding wars, a lack of inventory, and sellers with the upper hand in negotiations may be changing. “The signs are pointing to a market that’s shifting toward buyers,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “But in most places, we’re still a long way from a full reversal.”

After all, home sales aren’t exactly tanking. Prices for existing homes were up 4.6 percent from a year ago in the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report. The median home list price in August was up 7 percent from last year.

While these numbers are still higher than last year, economists point to a slowing growth in the percentage jumps. Last year, median home list prices increased by 10 percent from the previous year and by 9 percent the year before that.

A recent report from real estate brokerage Redfin showed that more than one in four home sellers dropped their asking price last month. The areas seeing some of the biggest decreases this year are Las Vegas; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; and Atlanta.

“We’ve hit that tipping point in a lot of these cities where what sellers think they can get is just not possible for many buyers,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, told realtor.com®. “Now the pendulum is swinging away from sellers and back toward buyers.”

Economists point to housing affordability as a culprit for the slowdown. Mortgage rates are up 0.82 percent since a year ago; the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.65 percent as of Sept. 20. Each percentage point increase in rates can translate to about $143 more on a monthly mortgage payment, or nearly $51,500 over the life of a loan on a $300,000 priced home, according to realtor.com®.

“Home prices have just gone up too fast,” Blomquist says. “It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden it’s a market that’s going to crash. But it does mean there are limits to what people can afford.”