June 20, 2024

Why a Vacation Home Is the Ultimate Summer Upgrade



Summer is officially here and that means it’s the perfect time to start planning where you want to vacation and unwind this season. If you’re excited about getting away and having some fun in the sun, it might make sense to consider if owning your own vacation home is right for you.

An Ameriprise Financial survey sheds light on why people buy a second, or vacation, home (see below): No Caption Received

 

  • Vacation destination or a place to get away from the stresses of everyday life (81%) – Having a second home to use as a vacation spot can be a special place where you go to relax and take a break from your daily routines and stressors. It also means you won’t have to worry about finding somewhere to stay when you go there.
  • Better weather (49%) – Buying in a place where there may be nicer weather can be a great escape, especially if it’s cold or rainy where you usually live. It lets you enjoy sunny days and warm temperatures, even when it’s not so nice back home.
  • Rental income (41%) – You can rent it out to other people when you’re not using it, which can help you make some extra money.
  • Primary residence in the future (33%) – You can eventually move into the home full-time during retirement. That means you can enjoy vacations there now and have a getaway ready for your future.
  • Having a venue for gatherings with family and friends (25%) – It would be a special spot where you can have parties, regular family trips, and create fun memories.

Ways To Buy Your Vacation Home

And you don’t have to be wealthy to buy a vacation home. Bankrate shares two tips for how to make this dream more achievable for anyone who’s interested:

  • Buy with loved ones or friends: If you’re okay with sharing the vacation home, you can go in on the purchase price together and pool your resources to make it more affordable.
  • Put a savings plan in place: This will require patience and persistence but consider adding a vacation home savings plan to your budget and contributing to it monthly.

Finding Your Dream Spot with a Little Help from an Agent

If the idea of basking in the sun at your very own vacation home sounds appealing, you might want to start looking now. Summer's when everyone's trying to buy their slice of paradise, so it’s best to start early.

Your first move is to team up with a real estate agent. They know all the ins and outs of the area you want to be in, and which homes you should look at. Plus, they can give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about having a second home and how it can benefit you. The same article from Bankrate says:

Buying real estate in a new area — or even one you’ve vacationed in for many years — requires expert guidance. That makes it a good idea to work with an experienced local lender who specializes in loans for vacation homes and a local real estate professional. Local lenders and Realtors will understand the required rules and specifics for the area you are buying, and a local Realtor will know what properties are available.”

Bottom Line

If the idea of owning your own vacation home appeals to you, let’s chat.

June 13, 2024

Homebuilders Aren’t Overbuilding, They’re Catching Up



You may have heard that there are more brand-new homes available right now than the norm. Today, about one in three homes on the market are newly built. And if you’re wondering what that means for the housing market and for your own move, here’s what you need to know.

Why This Isn’t Like 2008

People remember what happened to the housing market back in 2008. And one of the factors that contributed to that crash was that there were too many homes for sale. While only part of the oversupply back then came from builders, the lasting impact is that some people still feel uneasy when they hear new home construction has ramped up.

Even though the supply of new homes has grown this year, the data shows there’s no need to worry. Builders aren’t overbuilding, they’re just catching up. 

The graph below uses data from the Census to show the number of new houses built over the last 52 years. Following the crash in 2008, there was a long period of underbuilding (shown in red). And it wasn’t until recently that we finally met the long-term average for how many homes are built in a typical year. No Caption Received

 

This shows, that even with the increase in new builds we’ve seen lately, there won’t suddenly be an oversupply of homes for sale. There’s too much of a gap to make up after over a decade of underbuilding. And if you’re still worried builders are overdoing it, here’s something else that should be reassuring. 

New Home Construction May Be at Its Peak for the Year

The latest data from the Census on housing starts (homes where builders just broke ground) and permits (homes where builders can start development soon) shows builders are slowing down their pace right now. Why is that?

They’re responding to still high mortgage rates and how those are impacting buyer demand. Basically, they’re pulling back appropriately in response to what’s happening in the market. As an article from HousingWire explains

“Even with a massive housing shortage across the nation, homebuilders are completing their pipelines and not seeking as many permits to construct new single-family houses.” 

Builders remember what happened when they overbuilt in the crash, and they’re looking to avoid a repeat of that. So, they’re being mindful and pulling back a bit.

You May Have More Options Now Versus Later

If you’re considering a newly built home, here’s how this impacts you. With builders seeking fewer permits and not breaking ground on as many new homes, we may be at the peak of new home construction for the year. This doesn’t mean new home construction is screeching to a stop – just that the pace is slowing down now, and that’ll impact what comes to market later this year. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“Given the recent declines in housing starts, home completions will steadily show declines in about six months.”

So, if you’re ready and able to buy now, you may find you’ll have more newly built options to choose from now versus later on. This may be enough reason to kick off your search.

Just be sure to work with a local real estate agent you know and trust throughout the process. An agent will have valuable insight into builder reputations and other key factors specific to your market. And if there isn’t much new construction near you, they’ll be able to point you toward a nearby area where there is.

Bottom Line

While it’s true new home construction is a bigger segment of the market than the norm, that’s not a bad thing. Builders aren’t overbuilding, and they’re responding to market signals to avoid repeating the mistakes that were made in 2008.

 

If you want to buy now while new home options may be at their peak, let’s connect.

June 6, 2024

Your Equity Could Make a Move Possible



Many homeowners looking to sell feel like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place right now. Today’s mortgage rates are higher than the one they currently have on their home, and that’s making it harder to want to sell and make a move. Maybe you’re in the same boat.

But what if there was a way to offset these higher borrowing costs? There is. And the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

What Is Equity?

Think of equity as a simple math equation. Freddie Mac explains:

“. . . your home’s equity is the difference between how much your home is worth and how much you owe on your mortgage.”

Your equity grows as you pay down your loan over time and as home prices climb. And thanks to the rapid home price appreciation we saw in recent years, you probably have a whole lot more of it than you realize.

The latest from the Census and ATTOM shows more than two out of three homeowners have either completely paid off their mortgages (shown in green in the chart below) or have at least 50% equity (shown in blue in the chart below):

 

That means the majority of homeowners have a game-changing amount of equity right now.

How Your Equity Can Help Fuel Your Move

After you sell your house, that equity can help you move without worrying as much about today’s mortgage rates. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com says:

“A consideration today's homeowners should review is what their home equity picture looks like. With the typical home listing price up 40% from just five years ago, many home sellers are sitting on a healthy equity cushion. This means they are likely to walk away from a home sale with proceeds that they can use to offset the amount of borrowing needed for their next home purchase.”

To give you some examples, here are a few ways you can use equity to buy your next home:

  • Be an all-cash buyer: If you’ve been living in your current home for a long time, you might have enough equity to buy your next home without having to take out a loan. If that’s the case, you won’t need to borrow any money or worry about mortgage rates. 
  • Make a larger down payment: Your equity could also be used toward your next down payment. It might even be enough to let you put a larger amount down, so you won’t have to borrow as much at today’s rates. 

The First Step: Determine How Much Equity You Have in Your Home

Want to find out how much equity you have? To do that, you’ll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can probably find the mortgage balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To understand the current market value of your house, you can pay hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or you can contact a local real estate agent who will be able to present to you, at no charge, a professional equity assessment report (PEAR).

Once you’ve connected with a trusted local agent and run the numbers, you’re one step closer to making a move you may not have thought was realistic – all thanks to your equity.

Bottom Line

If you want to find out how much equity you have and talk more about how it can make your next move possible, let’s connect.

May 29, 2024

How Do Climate Risks Affect Your Next Home?




Climate change is impacting where people buy homes. As the experts at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explain:

“Sixty-three percent of people who have moved since the pandemic began say they believe climate change is—or will be—an issue in the place they currently live.”

If you’re planning to move, climate change is something you might want to consider, no matter where you are. A recent study from Realtor.com helps put the growing impact climate change is having on real estate into perspective (see below):

No Caption Received

 

So, how can you be sure your investment is safe from the elements?

For starters, work with a local real estate agent to understand the likelihood of your future home being exposed to hazards like wind, floods, and wildfires. Your agent will know the area and be able to tell you about the risks you’ll most likely face.

Beyond that, there are two important factors to think about: the quality of the home you want to buy and the insurance you’ll need to protect it.

A Home Built to Last

If you’re planning to be in your home for many years, you want to know it’s going to last. One way to think ahead is to work with your real estate agent to ensure the home you buy can withstand environmental hazards. They’re up to date on the most common building and remodeling techniques—like a secondary water barrier on the roof or noncombustible, fire-resistant exterior walls—used to protect homes from the effects of climate change.

And if the home you’re interested in doesn’t have the features you’re looking for, they can help you determine what you may be able to negotiate in the contract or what work it might require in the future.

Insurance To Protect It

Once you’re confident the home you’re looking at is well built, the next step is finding out what it’s going to take to insure it. As Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogicsays:

“. . . homeowners are going to become increasingly more aware of risks of living in some areas as it becomes prohibitively expensive or very difficult to obtain hazard insurance.”

In areas where climate risks are having a bigger impact, the right home insurance can make a big difference. And the price of that insurance is an important factor when thinking about your budget and the true cost of buying and protecting your home. Get an insurance quote early in the process because you may want to compare multiple quotes and it can take several weeks to get them.

While this may feel like a lot to consider, don’t worry. An agent can help. Your real estate agent will be your go-to resource on the homebuying process, what to look for and consider, and how climate change may affect your next home. With the right planning and an agent's expert advice, you can make this happen. Homeownership is worth it. And with a great agent by your side, you can make sure the home you find is the right fit.

Bottom Line

Climate change is an important factor to think about when buying a home. After all, your home is a huge investment, and you want to be ready for anything that might affect it. Let’s chat so you can find the perfect home.

May 15, 2024

Why a Condo May Be a Great Option for Your First Home



Having a hard time finding a first home that's right for you and your wallet? Well, here's a tip – think about condominiums, or condos for short.

They're usually smaller than single-family homes, but that's exactly why they can be easier on your budget. According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), condos are typically less expensive than single-family homes (see graph below):

No Caption Received

 

So, if you're comfortable with a smaller space and want to buy your first home this year, adding condos to your search might be easier on your wallet.

Besides giving you more options for your home search and maybe fitting your budget better, living in a condo has a bunch of other perks, too. According to Rocket Mortgage:

“From community living to walkable urban areas, condos are great options for first-time home buyers and people looking to enjoy homeownership without extensive upkeep.”

Let’s dive into a few of the draws of condos for first-time buyers from Bankrate:

  • They require less maintenance. Condos are great if you want to own your place but don't want to mow the lawn, shovel snow, or fix the roof. Your real estate agent can help explain any associated fees and details for the condos you’re interested in.
  • They allow you to start building equity. When you buy a condo, you build equity and your net worth as you make your mortgage payments and as your condo’s value goes up over time.
  • They often come with added amenities. Your condo might come with access to amenities like a pool, dog park, or parking. And the best part? You don’t have to take care of any of them.
  • They provide you with a sense of community. Buying a condo means you'll be living close to other people, which is nice if you enjoy having neighbors around and making friends. Many condo communities hold fun events like barbecues and parties during holidays for everyone to enjoy.

 

Remember, your first home doesn't have to be the one you stay in forever. The important thing is to get your foot in the door as a homeowner so you can start to gain home equity. Later on, that equity can help you buy another place if you need something different.

Ultimately, owning and living in a condo is a lifestyle choice. And if it’s one that appeals to you, they could provide the added options you need in today’s market.

Bottom Line

It might be a good idea to think about condos in your home search. If you're ready to see what's out there, let's get in touch today.

May 15, 2024

Thinking of Selling? You Want an Agent with These Skills



Selling your house is a big decision. Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ve probably ever made, and it’s a place where you’ve created countless memories. That combo means there’s going to be a lot of emotions involved. You want someone who understands your perspective, knows what it feels like, and is an expert at helping homeowners just like you navigate the process of selling a home.

That’s where a good listing agent, also known as a seller's agent, comes in. Here are just a few skills you’ll want your agent to have.

The Ability To Turn Something Complex into Something Simple

Some agents are going to use big, fancy real estate terms to try and impress you. But you shouldn’t have to know all the industry jargon in order to understand what they’re saying. If anything, it's an agent’s job to keep it simple, so you don’t get overwhelmed or confused.

A great agent is going to be someone who is very good at explaining what’s happening in the housing market in a way that’s easy to understand. But they’ll take it one step further than that. They’ll explain what’s going on and, specifically, what that means for you. That way you’re always in the loop and it's a lot easier to feel confident when you’re making a big decision. As Business Insider explains:

“Maybe you have a better rapport with one of the agents you're considering, or you just feel like they're easier to approach. You're going to be working closely with this person, so it's important to choose an agent you're comfortable with.”

A Data-Based Approach on How To Price Your House

While it may be tempting to pick the agent who suggests the highest asking price for your house, that strategy may cost you. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement when you see a bigger number, but overpricing your house can have consequences. It could mean your house will sit on the market longer because the higher price is actually turning away buyers.

Instead, partner with an agent who’s going to have an open conversation about how they recommend you should price your house. They won't throw out a number just to win your listing. A great agent will back up their number with solid data, explain their pricing strategy, and make sure you're both on the same page. As NerdWallet explains:

“An agent who recommends the highest price isn't always the best choice. Choose an agent who backs up the recommendation with market knowledge.”

A Fair, but Objective Negotiator

The home-selling process can be emotional, especially if you’ve been in your house for a long time. But that sentimental tie can make it harder to be objective during negotiations. That’s where a trusted professional can really make a difference.

They’re skilled negotiators who know how to stay calm under pressure. You can count on them to handle the back-and-forth and have your best interests at heart throughout the process. Not to mention, they’ll be able to rely on their market expertise and what they’re seeing work in other transactions to offer the best advice possible. As Rocket Mortgage explains:

“Whether this is your first or third time selling a house, listing agents work to help make the home selling process smoother and less stressful. These real estate professionals know the ins and outs of the industry and can help you secure the best deal.”

Bottom Line

Whether you're a first-time seller or you’ve been through this before, a great listing agent is the key to your success. Let’s connect so you have a skilled local expert by your side to guide you through every step of the process.

May 9, 2024

Tips for Younger Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality



If you’re a member of a younger generation, like Gen Z, you may be asking the question: will I ever be able to buy a home? And chances are, you’re worried that’s not going to be in the cards with inflation, rising home pricesmortgage rates, and more seemingly stacked against you.

While there’s no arguing this housing market is challenging for first-time homebuyers, it is still achievable, especially if you have professionals on your side.

Here are some helpful tips you may get from a pro.

1. Explore Your Options for a Down Payment

If a down payment is your #1 hurdle, you may have options to give your savings a boost. There are over 2,000 down payment assistance programs designed to make homeownership more achievable. And, that’s not the only place you may be able to get a helping hand. While it may not be an option for everyone, 49% of Gen Z homebuyers got money from loved ones that they used toward a down payment, according to LendingTree.

And chances are you won’t need to put 20% down (unless specified by your loan type or lender). So be sure to work with a trusted mortgage professional to explore your options, find out how much you’ll really need, and learn about any guidelines on getting a gift from loved ones.

2. Live with Loved Ones To Boost Your Savings

Another thing a number of Gen Z buyers are doing is ditching their rental and moving back in with friends or family. This can help cut down your housing costs so you can build your savings a whole lot faster. As Bankrate explains:

“. . . many have opted to stop renting and live with family in order to boost their savings. Thirty percent of Gen Z homebuyers move directly from their family member’s home to a home of their own, according to NAR.”

3. Cast a Broad Net for Your Search

When you’ve saved up enough, here’s how a pro will help you approach your search. Since the supply of homes for sale is still low and affordability is tight, they’ll give you strategies and avenues you may not have considered to open up your pool of options.

For example, it’s usually more affordable if you consider a rural or suburban area versus an urban one. So, while the city may be livelier and more energetic, the cost of living may be reason enough to look at something further out. And if you consider smaller homes and condos or townhouses, you’ll give yourself even more ways to break into the market. As Colby Stout, Research Analyst at Bright MLSexplains:

“Being flexible on the types of home (e.g., a condo or townhome versus a single-family home) and exploring more affordable neighborhoods is important for first-time buyers.”

4. Take a Close Look at Your Wants and Needs

And lastly, an agent can help you really think about your must-have’s and nice-to-have’s. Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home. You just need to get your foot in the door to start building equity. If you want to buy, you may find making some compromises is worth it. As Chase says:

“An open-minded approach to house-hunting may be one way for Gen Z homebuyers to maintain some edge. This could mean buying in areas that are less expensive. Differentiating needs vs. wants may help in this area as well.”

An agent will help you prioritize your list of home features and find houses that can deliver on the top ones. And they’ll be able to explain how equity can benefit you in the long run and make it possible to move into that dream home down the line.

Bottom Line

Real estate professionals have expertise on what’s working for other buyers like you. Lean on them for tips and advice along the way. As Directors Mortgage says, with that support you can make it happen:

 

The path to homeownership may not be a straightforward one for Gen Z, but it’s undoubtedly within reach. By adopting the right strategies, like exploring down payment assistance programs and sharing living costs with relatives, you can bring your dream of owning a home closer to reality.”

 

Let’s connect to get you set up for long-term success.

May 2, 2024

What More Listings Mean When You Sell Your House




The number of homes for sale is playing a big role in today’s housing market. And, if you’re considering whether or not to list your house, today’s limited supply is one of the biggest advantages you have right now. That’s because your house stands out more when the inventory is low, especially if it’s priced right.

But the supply of homes for sale is growing. According to the latest data from Realtor.com, new listings (homeowners who just put their house up for sale) are trending up (see graph below):

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This graph shows more homeowners are putting that sale sign up in their yards compared to the same time last year. As Realtor.com says:

“. . . sellers turned out in higher numbers this March as newly listed homes were 15.5% above last year’s levels. This marked the fifth month of increasing listing activity after a 17-month streak of decline.”

What This Means for You

If you’ve been putting off selling your house, maybe it’s time to start thinking about it again – before your neighbors do. While we’re not going to suddenly have a surplus of homes for sale, each house that pops on the market in your area runs the risk of pulling buyer attention away from yours.

For example, if your neighbor gets in on the action and lists their house too, it means you’ll have competition right next door. You don’t want buyers to tour your house and fall in love with someone else’s. You want yours to be in the spotlight.

A great agent can make that happen. They’ll help you get your house ready to list, draw attention to everything today’s buyers are looking for, and help you price it right. That way buyers are really drawn to your listing and eager to make it their home.

If you’re ready and able to sell now, here’s your chance to get the best of both worlds. Since the supply of homes for sale is growing, you’ll have more options for your own move. But you’ll also be able to sell while your house will still stand out.

Bottom Line

Even though inventory is still low, you don’t want to wait for more competition to pop up in your neighborhood. Let’s connect to go over the perks of selling before more homes come to the market.

April 25, 2024

The Best Way To Keep Track of Mortgage Rate Trends



If you’re thinking about buying a home, chances are you’ve got mortgage rates on your mind. You’ve heard about how they impact how much you can afford in your monthly mortgage payment, and you want to make sure you’re factoring that in as you plan your move.

The problem is, with all the headlines in the news about rates lately, it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through. Here’s a quick rundown of what you really need to know.

The Latest on Mortgage Rates

Rates have been volatile – that means they’re bouncing around a bit. And, you may be wondering, why? The answer is complicated because rates are affected by so many factors.

Things like what’s happening in the broader economy and the job market, the current inflation rate, decisions made by the Federal Reserve, and a whole lot more have an impact. Lately, all of those factors have come into play, and it’s caused the volatility we’ve seen. As Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“Ongoing inflation deceleration, a slowing economy and even geopolitical uncertainty can contribute to lower mortgage rates. On the other hand, data that signals upside risk to inflation may result in higher rates.”

Professionals Can Help Make Sense of it All

While you could drill down into each of those things to really understand how they impact mortgage rates, that would be a lot of work. And when you’re already busy planning a move, taking on that much reading and research may feel a little overwhelming. Instead of spending your time on that, lean on the pros.

They coach people through market conditions all the time. They’ll focus on giving you a quick summary of any broader trends up or down, what experts say lies ahead, and how all of that impacts you.

Take this chart as an example. It gives you an idea of how mortgage rates impact your monthly payment when you buy a home. Imagine being able to make a payment between $2,500 and $2,600 work for your budget (principal and interest only). The green part in the chart shows payments in that range or lower based on varying mortgage rates (see chart below):

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As you can see, even a small shift in rates can impact the loan amount you can afford if you want to stay within that target budget.

It’s tools and visuals like these that take everything that’s happening and show what it actually means for you. And only a pro has the knowledge and expertise needed to guide you through them.

You don’t need to be an expert on real estate or mortgage rates, you just need to have someone who is, by your side.

Bottom Line

Have questions about what’s going on in the housing market? Let’s connect so we can take what’s happening right now and figure out what it really means for you.

Posted in Mortgage
April 18, 2024

Should I Wait for Mortgage Rates To Come Down Before I Move?



If you’ve got a move on your mind, you may be wondering whether you should wait to sell until mortgage rates come down before you spring into action. Here’s some information that could help answer that question for you.

In the housing market, there’s a longstanding relationship between mortgage rates and buyer demand. Typically, the higher rates are, you’ll see lower buyer demand. That’s because some people who want to move will be hesitant to take on a higher mortgage rate for their next home. So, they decide to wait it out and put their plans on hold.

But when rates start to come down, things change. It goes from limited or weak demand to good or strong demand. That’s because a big portion of the buyers who sat on the sidelines when rates were higher are going to jump back in and make their moves happen. The graph below helps give you a visual of how this relationship works and where we are today:

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As Lisa Sturtevant, Chief Economist for Bright MLSexplains:

“The higher rates we’re seeing now [are likely] going to lead more prospective buyers to sit out the market and wait for rates to come down.”

Why You Might Not Want To Wait

If you’re asking yourself: what does this mean for my move? Here’s the golden nugget. According to experts, mortgage rates are still projected to come down this year, just a bit later than they originally thought. 

When rates come down, more people are going to get back into the market. And that means you’ll have a lot more competition from other buyers when you go to purchase your next home. That may make your move more stressful if you wait because greater demand could lead to an increase in multiple offer scenarios and prices rising faster.

But if you’re ready and able to sell now, it may be worth it to get ahead of that. You have the chance to move before the competition increases.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about whether you should wait for rates to come down before you move, don’t forget to factor in buyer demand. Once rates decline, competition will go up even more. If you want to get ahead of that and sell now, let’s chat.

Posted in Mortgage, Moving