Category Archives for "First Time Home Buyers"

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa.

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa. | Simplifying The Market

In today’s world, hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

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.” 

Bottom Line

Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

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Homeownership is the Top Contributor to Your Net Worth

Homeownership is the Top Contributor to Your Net Worth | Simplifying The Market

Recently two U.S. Census Bureau researchers released their findings on the biggest determinants of household wealth. What they found may help shape your view on building your family’s net worth.

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 below):

Homeownership is the Top Contributor to Your Net Worth | Simplifying The MarketThis 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):Homeownership is the Top Contributor to Your Net Worth | Simplifying The MarketJohn Paulson said it well,

If you don’t own a home, buy one. If you own one home, buy another one, and if you own two homes buy a third and lend your relatives the money to buy a home.”

Bottom Line

There are financial and non-financial benefits to owning a home. If you would like to increase your net worth, let’s get together so you can learn all the benefits of becoming a homeowner.

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What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage?

What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | Simplifying The Market

It’s common knowledge that your FICO® score plays an important role in the homebuying process. However, many buyers have misconceptions regarding what exactly is required to get the loans they need.

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.

According to the same CNBC article,

“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 below):What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | Simplifying The MarketBut 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 loan borrowers. 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.”

Bottom Line

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.

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62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | Simplifying The Market

Contrary to common misconception, a down payment is often much less than many believe.

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 below):

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | Simplifying The MarketThe lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is unfortunately keeping many motivated buyers on the sidelines.

Bottom Line

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.

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5 Homebuying Acronyms You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC]

5 Homebuying Acronyms You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

5 Homebuying Acronyms You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Learning the lingo of homebuying is an important part of feeling successful when buying a home.
  • From APR to P&I, you need to know the acronyms that will come up along the way, and what they mean when you hear them.
  • Your local professionals are here to help you feel confident and informed from start to finish…and this infographic will help you as you go.

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What to Expect from Your Home Inspection

What to Expect from Your Home Inspection | Simplifying The Market

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.

Bottom Line

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.

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Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much.

Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much. | Simplifying The Market

When people talk about homeownership and the American Dream, much of the conversation revolves around the financial benefits of owning a home. However, two recent studies show that the non-financial benefits might be even more valuable.

In a recent survey, Bank of America asked homeowners: “Does owning a home make you happier than renting?” 93% of the respondents answered yes, while only 7% said no. The survey also revealed:

  • More than 80% said they wouldn’t go back to renting
  • 88% agreed that buying a home is the “best decision they have ever made
  • 79% believed owning a home has changed them for the better

Those surveyed talked about the “emotional equity” that is built through homeownership. The study says more than half of current homeowners define a home as a place to make memories, compared to 42% who view a home as a financial investment. Besides building wealth, the survey also showed that homeownership enhances quality of life:

  • 67% of current homeowners believed their relationships with family and loved ones have changed for the better since they bought a home
  • 78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life
  • 82% of homeowners said they were satisfied with the amount of time they spend on their hobbies and passions since purchasing a home
  • 75% of homeowners pursued new hobbies after buying a home

Homeowners seem to be very happy.

Renters Tell a Different Story…

According to the latest Zillow Housing Aspirations Report45% of renters regret renting rather than buying — more than five times the share of homeowners (8%) who regret buying instead of renting. Here are the four major reasons people regret renting, according to the report:

  • 52% regret not being able to build equity
  • 52% regret not being able to customize or improve their rentals
  • 50% regret that the rent is so high
  • 49% regret that they lack private outdoor space

These two studies prove that renting is just not the same as owning.

Bottom Line

There are both financial and non-financial benefits to homeownership. As good as the “financial equity” is, it doesn’t compare to the “emotional equity” gained through owning your own home.

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Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate?

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate? | Simplifying The Market

According to a new study from realtor.com, the week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

Every year, ‘Black Friday’ is a highly anticipated event for eager shoppers. Some people prepare for weeks, crafting and refining a strategic shopping agenda, determining exactly when to arrive at each store, and capturing a wish list of discounted must-have items to purchase. But what about buying a home? Is there a ‘Black Friday’ for the home-buying process? Believe it or not, there is.

According to a new study from realtor.com, the week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

After evaluating housing data in 53 metros from 2016 to 2018, realtor.com determined that the first week of fall is when buyers “tend to find less competition, more inventory, and the biggest reductions on list price.

The report explains,

“During the first week of fall, buyers tend to face 26% less competition from other buyers, and they are likely to see 6.1% more homes available on the market compared to other weeks of the year…nearly 6% of homes on the market will also see price reductions, averaging 2.4% less than their peak.”

What’s so different about the first week of fall?

George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com says,

“As summer winds down and kids return to school, many families hit pause on their home search and wait until the next season to start again…as seasonal inventory builds up and restores itself to more buyer-friendly levels, fall buyers will be in a better position to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates and increased purchasing power.”

Learn more about how prices, listings, and buyer competition stack up during the first week of fall in your metro area.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of the ‘Black Friday’ of home buying, let’s get together to discuss the benefits of making your next move this fall.

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One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home | Simplifying The Market

One of the benefits of homeownership is that it is a “forced savings plan.” Here’s how it works: You make a mortgage payment each month. Part of that payment is applied to the principal balance of your mortgage. Each month you owe less on the home. The difference between the value of the home and what you owe is called equity.

If your home has appreciated since the time you purchased it, that increase in value also raises your equity. Over time, the equity in your home could be substantial. Recently, CoreLogic revealed that the average homeowner gained more than $65,000 in equity over the last 5 years.

Unlike last decade, homeowners are no longer foolishly tapping into that equity. In 2006-2008, many owners used their homes like an ATM by pulling equity out to purchase new cars, jet skis, or lavish vacations. They were pulling out cash (equity) from an appreciating asset, and then spending it on rapidly depreciating items. That is not happening anymore.

Over 50% of Homes Have at Least 50% Equity

The number of homeowners that currently have at least 50% equity in their home is astonishing. According to the Urban Institute, 37.1% of all homes in the country are mortgage-free. In a home equity study, ATTOM Data Solutions revealed that of the 62.9% of homes with a mortgage, 25.6% have at least 50% equity. That number has been increasing over the last five years:One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home | Simplifying The MarketBy doing a little math, we can see that 53.2% of all homes in this country have at least 50% equity right now. Of all homes, 37.1% are mortgage-free and an additional 16.1% with a mortgage have at least 50% equity.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is different than renting. When you own, your housing expense (the mortgage payment) comes back to you in the form of equity in your home. That doesn’t happen with your rent payment. Your rent helps build your landlord’s equity instead.

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What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs

What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs | Simplifying The Market

When searching for a home, you may end up selecting a property in a community with a Homeowners Association (HOA). Before you buy, it’s important to know how an HOA works and what they mean for you.

According to a recent article on realtor.com,

“In a nutshell, an HOA helps ensure that your community looks its best and functions smoothly…The number of Americans living in homes with HOAs is on the rise, growing from a mere 1% in 1970 to 25% today, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.”

An HOA is governed by a board nominated by those living in the neighborhood. It is designed to make sure the residents have a support structure to maintain the value of the community while abiding by a set of guidelines called Common Restrictive Covenants (CC&R),

“Simply put, CC&Rs are just the rules you’ll have to follow if you live in that community. Unlike zoning regulations, which are government-imposed requirements on how land can be used, restrictive covenants are established by HOAs to maintain the attractiveness and value of the property.”

It’s important for homeowners to understand that each HOA is a little different, and they usually have monthly or quarterly fees required for homeowners. These fees can vary based on property size, number of residents, amenities, and more. There may be additional fees charged to homeowners if the reserve fund for the HOA cannot cover a major or unexpected cost, like severe storm damage.

The fees, however, also help maintain common areas such as swimming pools, tennis courts, elevators (for high-rise buildings), and regular wear and tear. Although they are an added cost to the homeowner, an HOA can be a major benefit when it comes to maintaining the value of your neighborhood and your property.

The same article continues to say,

“After your offer to buy a home is accepted, you are legally entitled to receive and review the community’s CC&Rs over a certain number of days (typically between three and 10)…If you spot anything in the restrictive covenants you absolutely can’t live with, you can bring it up with the HOA board or just back out of your contract completely (and keep your deposit).”

Most lenders will factor your HOA fees into your loan package, ensuring the amount of the loan is appropriate for what you can truly afford.

There are some great benefits to having an HOA oversee your neighborhood, and it’s important to understand what fees, structures, and regulations will come into play if there is an HOA where you’d like to live.

Bottom Line

When you’re looking at a potential property to buy, let’s get together so you have a professional who can help you understand the neighborhood’s HOA structure and fees. This way, you’ll feel confident and fully informed when buying a home.

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