Category Archives for "First Time Home Buyers"

The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home

The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home | Simplifying The Market

The headlines in real estate today all revolve around one major point: there is a shortage of homes available for sale. Price appreciation is accelerating again because there is a shortage of homes available for sale. First-time buyers are taking longer to purchase a home because there is a shortage of homes available for sale in the lower price points. Boomers are staying in their current homes longer because there is a shortage of homes available for sale to which they would move. In certain markets, affordability is becoming more challenging because there is a shortage of homes available for sale.

What’s the major reason for this lack of housing inventory?

The issue was examined in a recent article by the National Home Builders Association (NAHB). In the article, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for NAHB, explained:

“Home building in the 2010s was a story of the Long Recovery. After the Great Recession, the number of home builders declined significantly, and housing production was unable to meet buyer demand…Years of population and household formation growth, combined with relatively reduced levels of home building, have left the market with a critical supply shortage.”

Here are the single-family home construction starts by decade for the last six decades:The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home | Simplifying The MarketObviously, there’s a current shortage of homes for sale because not enough houses were built over the last ten years. To add to the challenge, the U.S. population expanded by more than 20 million people during the 2010s.

Below is a graph showing the number of starts per every million in population. The last decade shows that starts per population were less than half the average of the previous five decades.The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home | Simplifying The Market

There’s good news coming!

The NAHB article explains that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

How confident home builders are in the housing market is a great indicator of how much building is about to get started. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair,” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average,” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as “good” than “poor.”

Here are the HMI readings going back to 2008:The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home | Simplifying The MarketThe 2019 confidence reading of 76 was the highest since 1999. The January 2020 index came in one point lower at 75. These readings indicate we should see an increase in new residential construction in 2020. Just last week, NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde stated:

“Low interest rates and a healthy labor market combined with a need for additional inventory are setting the stage for further home building gains in 2020.”

The increase in housing starts has already begun. According to the January report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, single‐family housing starts were up 11.2% and attained the highest level in thirteen years.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seller thinking of moving up or down, 2020 could be your year with more new construction homes coming to market.

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Make the Dream of Homeownership a Reality in 2020

Make the Dream of Homeownership a Reality in 2020 | Simplifying The Market

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. led and inspired a powerful movement with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Through his passion and determination, he sparked interest, ambition, and courage in his audience. Today, reflecting on his message encourages many of us to think about our own dreams, goals, beliefs, and aspirations. For many Americans, one of those common goals is owning a home: a piece of land, a roof over our heads, and a place where our families can grow and flourish.

If you’re dreaming of buying a home this year, the best way to start the process is to connect with a Real Estate professional to understand what goes into buying a home. Once you have that covered, then you can answer the questions below to make the best decision for you and your family.

1. How Can I Better Understand the Process, and How Much Can I Afford?

The process of buying a home is not one to enter into lightly. You need to decide on key things like how long you plan on living in an area, school districts you prefer, what kind of commute works for you, and how much you can afford to spend.

Keep in mind, before you start the process to purchase a home, you’ll also need to apply for a mortgage. Lenders will evaluate several factors connected to your financial track record, one of which is your credit history. They’ll want to see how well you’ve been able to minimize past debts, so make sure you’ve been paying your student loans, credit cards, and car loans on time. Most agents have loan officers they trust that they can refer you to.

According to ConsumerReports.org,

Financial planners recommend limiting the amount you spend on housing to 25 percent of your monthly budget.”

2. How Much Do I Need for a Down Payment?

In addition to knowing how much you can afford on a monthly mortgage payment, understanding how much you’ll need for a down payment is another critical step. Thankfully, there are many different options and resources in the market to potentially reduce the amount you may think you need to put down up front.

If you’re concerned about saving for a down payment, start small and be consistent. A little bit each month goes a long way. Jumpstart your savings by automatically adding a portion of your monthly paycheck into a separate savings account or house fund. AmericaSaves.org says,

“Over time, these automatic deposits add up. For example, $50 a month accumulates to $600 a year and $3,000 after five years, plus interest that has compounded.”

Before you know it, you’ll have enough for a down payment if you’re disciplined and thoughtful about your process.

3. Saving Takes Time: Practice Living on a Budget

As tempting as it is to settle in each morning with a fancy cup of coffee from your favorite local shop, putting that daily spend toward your down payment will help accelerate your path to homeownership. It’s the little things that count, so start trying to live on a slightly tighter budget if you aren’t doing so already. A budget will allow you to save more for your down payment and help you pay down other debts to improve your credit score. A survey of Millennial spending shows,

“70 percent of would-be first-time homebuyers will cut spending on spa days, shopping and going to the movies in exchange for purchasing a home within the next year.”

While you don’t need to cut all of the fun out of your current lifestyle, making smarter choices and limiting your spending in areas where you can slim down will make a big difference.

Bottom Line

If homeownership is on your dream list this year, take a good look at what you can prioritize to help you get there. Let’s get together today to discuss the best steps you can take to start the process.

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Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable

Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Simplifying The Market

There’s a current narrative that owning a home today is less affordable than it has been in the past. The reason some are making this claim is because house prices have substantially increased over the last several years.

It’s not, however, just the price of a home that matters.

Homes, in most cases, are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since December 2018. Another major piece of the affordability equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by approximately 3% over the last year.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases a monthly Housing Affordability Index. The latest index shows that home affordability is better today than at almost any point over the last 30 years. The index determines how affordable homes are based on the following:

“A Home Affordability Index value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index of 120 signifies that a family earning the median income has 20 percent more than the level of income needed pay the mortgage on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment so that the monthly payment and interest will not exceed 25 percent of this level of income (qualifying income).”

The higher the index, therefore, the more affordable homes are. Here is a graph showing the index since 1990:Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Simplifying The MarketObviously, affordability was better during the housing crash when distressed properties – foreclosures and short sales – sold at major discounts (2009-2015). Outside of that period, however, homes are more affordable today than any other year since 1990, except for 2016.

The report on the index also includes a section that calculates the mortgage payment on a median priced home as a percentage of the median national income. Historically, that percentage is just above 21%. Here are the percentages since June of 2018:Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Simplifying The MarketAgain, we can see that affordability is much better today than the historical average and has been getting better over the last year and a half.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re thinking about buying your first home or moving up to the home of your dreams, don’t let the false narrative about affordability prevent you from moving forward. From an affordability standpoint, this is one of the best times to buy in the last 30 years.

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Buying a Home Early Can Significantly Increase Future Wealth

Buying a Home Early Can Significantly Increase Future Wealth | Simplifying The Market

According to an Urban Institute study, homeowners who purchase a house before age 35 are better prepared for retirement at age 60.

The good news is, our younger generations are strong believers in homeownership.

According to a Freddie Mac survey,

“The dream of homeownership is alive and well within “Generation Z,” the demographic cohort following Millennials.

Our survey…finds that Gen Z views homeownership as an important goal. They estimate that they will attain this goal by the time they turn 30 years old, three years younger than the current median homebuying age (33).”

Buying a Home Early Can Significantly Increase Future Wealth | Simplifying The MarketIf these aspiring homeowners purchase at an early age, the Urban Institute study shows the impact it can have.

Based on this data, those who purchased their first homes when they were younger than 25 had an average of $10,000 left on their mortgage at age 60. The 50% of buyers who purchased in their mid-20s and early-30s had close to $50,000 left, but traditionally purchased more expensive homes.Buying a Home Early Can Significantly Increase Future Wealth | Simplifying The MarketAlthough the vast majority of Gen Zers want to own a home and are somewhat confident in their future, “In terms of financial awareness, 65% of Gen Z respondents report that they are not confident in their knowledge of the mortgage process.”

Bottom Line

As the numbers show, you’re not alone. If you want to buy this year but you’re not sure where to start the process, let’s get together to help you understand the best steps to take from here.

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Big Demand for Small Homes

Big Demand for Small Homes | Simplifying The Market

Movies, tv shows, and celebrities often have us dreaming of owning large homes, but the reality for most people is quite different.

Since 2015, the square footage of newly built houses has been shrinking, according to Yahoo Finances. This is not projected to change as we continue into the beginning of the year.

“We expect this downsizing trend to continue in 2020, driven by a confluence of economic and demographic trends.”

Why are smaller homes trending now?

As noted in the article, there are a few main reasons for this demand:

  • “Many of today’s younger, millennial home buyers have expressed a preference for denser, more urban homes that are more walkable to shared amenities.”
  • “Today’s older homeowners are expressing a desire for smaller, less maintenance-heavy and more accessible (read: less stairs) homes as they age and move into newer homes.”

With these two demographic groups surging through the market, the demand for this type of home is rising. If you’re a homeowner with a smaller-scale house, now may be a great time to sell, as the demand for this end of the market is surely on the rise.

Bottom Line

The demand for smaller houses will continue to rise throughout 2020. Let’s get together to discuss what the housing inventory looks like in your neighborhood. It might be time for you to take advantage of this trend!

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3 Benefits to Buying Your Dream Home This Year

3 Benefits to Buying Your Dream Home This Year | Simplifying The Market

Outside of a strong economy, low unemployment, and higher wages, there are three more great reasons why you may want to consider buying your dream home this year instead of waiting.

1. Buying a Home is a Great Investment

Several reports indicate that real estate is a good investment, topping other options such as gold, stocks, bonds, and savings. Why? Real estate helps build equity, a form of investing for you and your family. According to CoreLogic’s Equity Report,

“U.S. homeowners with mortgages (roughly 64% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by a total of nearly $457 billion since the third quarter 2018, an increase of 5.1%, year over year.”

This means the average homeowner gained approximately $5,300 in equity over the past year. If you want to start building your equity, put your housing costs to work for you through homeownership this year.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Low

The Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac indicates that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have fallen since November 2018 when they hit 4.94%. In their latest forecast, Freddie Mac expects rates to remain low, leveling out to a yearly average of 3.8% in 2020.

When you purchase a home at a low mortgage rate, it will impact your monthly mortgage payment, giving you the opportunity to buy more house for your money.

3. Investing in Your Family is a Win

There are some renters who haven’t purchased a home yet because they’re uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you’re living rent-free with your parents, you’re paying a mortgage – either yours or that of your landlord.

Today, rental prices continue to increase, and when you’re paying your landlord’s mortgage instead of your own, you’re not the one earning the equity. As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ you can use later in life to reinvest in your family. You can use it for a variety of opportunities, such as saving for your children’s education, moving up to a bigger home, or starting your own business. As a renter, it can be more challenging to achieve those types of dreams without home equity working for you.

Bottom Line

Buying a home sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings and long-term financial growth for you and your family. Let’s get together to determine if homeownership is the right choice for you this year.

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Working with a Local Real Estate Professional Makes All the Difference [INFOGRAPHIC]

Working with a Local Real Estate Professional Makes All the Difference [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Working with a Local Real Estate Professional Makes All the Difference [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Choosing the right real estate professional is one of the most impactful decisions you can make in your home buying or selling process.
  • A real estate professional can explain current market conditions and break down what they will mean to you and your family.
  • If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2020, make sure to work with someone who has the experience to answer all of your questions about pricing, contracts, and negotiations.

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Year-Over-Year Rental Prices on the Rise

Year-Over-Year Rental Prices on the Rise | Simplifying The Market

Looking ahead, 2020 is projected to be a strong year for homeownership. According to the Freddie Mac Forecast,

“We expect rates to remain low, falling to a yearly average of 3.8% in 2020.”

If you’re currently renting, 2020 may be a great time to think about making a jump into homeownership while mortgage rates are low.

As noted in the National Rent Report,

the national rent index increased by 1.4 percent year-over-year.”

With average rents on the rise, this year-over-year increase may not sound like much, but it can add up – fast. The math on how much extra it will cost you over time surely doesn’t lie.

Here’s an example: On a $1,500 rental payment, an increase of 1.4% adds an additional $21 dollars per month to your payment. When multiplied by the twelve months in a year, it’s a $252 overall annual increase. The price continues to multiply when you rent year after year, as rental prices rise.

History shows how average rental prices have been increasing each year, and there doesn’t seem to be much end in sight. Here’s a look at how rents have grown since 2012 alone:Year-Over-Year Rental Prices on the Rise | Simplifying The MarketWhy not lock down your monthly housing expense, and at the same time build additional net worth for you and your family? If you’re thinking about buying a home, consider the financial benefits of what homeownership can do for you, especially while the market conditions are strong and current mortgage rates are low.

Bottom Line

With average rents continuing to rise, now may be a great time to stabilize your monthly payment by becoming a homeowner and locking into a low mortgage rate. Let’s get together to discuss how taking advantage of the current market conditions might work for you.

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When a House Becomes a Happy Home

When a House Becomes a Happy Home | Simplifying The Market

We talk a lot about why it makes financial sense to buy a home, but more often than not we’re drawn to the emotional reasons for homeownership.

No matter the size or shape of a living space, the feeling of a home means different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the feel-good connections to our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones. Here are some of the reasons why

1. Owning your home offers stability to start and raise a family

From the best neighborhoods to the top school districts, even those without children at the time of purchase may have this in the back of their minds as a major reason for choosing the location of the home they purchase.

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers not only safety and security, but also a comfortable place where you can simply relax and kick-back after a long day. Sometimes, that’s just what we need to feel re-charged and truly content.

3. You have more space for you and your family

Whether your family is expanding, an older family member is moving in, or you need to have a large backyard for your pets, you can take all this into consideration when buying your dream home, so the space truly works for you.

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and style

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Maybe you want to finally adopt that fur-baby puppy or kitten you’ve been hoping for. Who’s to say you can’t do all of these things in your own home?

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a happy home.

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December 2019: The Buyer Stakes Are High Because Inventory Is Low

December 2019: The Buyer Stakes Are High Because Inventory Is Low | Simplifying The Market

The reality of what we’re seeing this month is that homes are selling fast. In today’s strong seller’s market, bidding wars are common and expected with starter or entry-level homes.

In most areas of the country, first-time buyers have been met with fierce competition throughout their homebuying experience. Some have been out-bid multiple times before finally going into contract on a home to call their own.

Right now, inventory is the big challenge. Here’s what we know today:

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there is currently a 3.9-month supply of homes for sale, which can drive this kind of hefty buyer competition. Remember, anything less than 6 months of inventory is a seller’s market.

Even though the month’s supply of inventory is not increasing, ironically, the number of homes for sale is. This means homes are coming up for sale, but they’re being sold quickly. The graph below shows the year-over-year change in inventory over the last 12 months.December 2019: The Buyer Stakes Are High Because Inventory Is Low | Simplifying The MarketAs depicted above, the percentage of available inventory has fallen for four consecutive months when compared to the previous year.

So, what does this mean? If you’re a buyer, be sure to get pre-approved for a mortgage and be ready to make a competitive offer, so you can move quickly. Chances are, homes high on your wish list are likely going to go fast.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, make sure you’re taking the right steps at the beginning of the process, so you’re a top contender if you ultimately find yourself in a bidding war. Let’s get together to discuss what you need to do to make your move toward homeownership.

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