4 REAL Reasons Why We Buy A Home!
We often talk about why it makes financial sense to buy a home, but more often than not, the emotional reasons are the more powerful or compelling ones.
No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the emotional reasons why we choose to buy our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones.
1. Owning your home offers you the stability to start and raise a family
Between the best neighborhoods and the best school districts, even buyers without children at the time of purchase may have these things in mind as major reasons for choosing the locations of the homes that they purchase.
2. There’s no place like home
Owning your own home offers you not only safety and security, but also a comfortable place that allows you to relax after a long day!
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 this all into consideration when buying your dream home!
4. You have control over renovations, updates, and style
Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit in your apartment building? Or maybe you want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t do just that in your own home?
Whether you are 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 home.
Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000
Rising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home.
However, it is not just the price of a home that determines its affordability. The monthly cost of a home is determined by the price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it.
Today, mortgage interest rates stand at about 4.5%. The average annual mortgage interest rate from 1985 to 2000 was almost double that number, at 8.92%. When comparing affordability of homeownership over the decades, we must also realize that incomes have increased.
This is why most indexes use the percentage of median income required to make monthly mortgage payments on a typical home as the point of comparison.
Zillow recently released a report comparing home affordability over the decades using this formula. The report revealed that, though homes are less affordable this year than last year, they are more affordable today (17.1%) than they were between 1985-2000 (21%). Additionally, homes are more affordable now than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006 (25.4%). Here is a chart of these findings:
What will happen when mortgage interest rates rise?
Most experts think that the mortgage interest rate will increase to about 5% by year’s end. How will that impact affordability? Zillow also covered this in their report:
Rates would need to approach 6% before homes became less affordable than they had been historically.
Though homes are less affordable today than they were last year, they are still a great purchase while interest rates are below the 6% mark.
Why Should You Use A Professional to Sell Your Home?
When homeowners decide to sell their houses, they obviously want to get the best possible price for their home with the least amount of hassles along the way. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is actually getting their homes sold.
In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed a buyer’s behavior during the home buying process. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2018 Home Buyer & Seller Generational Trends Report, the first step that “42% of recent buyers took in the home buying process was to look online at properties for sale.”
However, the report also revealed that 94% of buyers who used the internet when searching for homes ultimately purchased their homes through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% of buyers purchased their homes directly from a seller whom they didn’t know.
Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the home they will buy (52%), to negotiate the terms of the sale (47%) & price (38%), or to help understand the process (60%).
The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers who reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots.” This is obvious, as the percentage of overall buyers who have used agents to buy their homes has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.
If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.
You DO NOT Need 20% Down to Buy Your Home NOW!
The Aspiring Home Buyers Profile from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is required to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. The results of the survey show that the main reason why non-homeowners do not own their own homes is because they believe that they cannot afford them.
This brings us to two major misconceptions that we want to address today.
1. Down Payment
A recent survey by Laurel Road, the National Online Lender and FDIC-Insured Bank, revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan.
According to the survey, 53% of Americans who plan to buy or have already bought a home admit to their concerns about their ability to afford a home in the current market. In addition, 46% are currently unfamiliar with alternative down payment options, and 46% of millennials do not feel confident that they could currently afford a 20% down payment.
What these people don’t realize, however, is that there are many loans written with down payments of 3% or less.
Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.
An Ipsos survey revealed that 62% of respondents believe they need excellent credit to buy a home, with 43% thinking a “good credit score” is over 780. In actuality, the average FICO® scores for approved conventional and FHA mortgages are much lower.
The average conventional loan closed in May had a credit score of 753, while FHA mortgages closed with an average score of 676. The average across all loans closed in May was 724. The chart below shows the distribution of FICO® Scores for all loans approved in May.
If you are a prospective buyer who is ‘ready’ and ‘willing’ to act now, but you are not sure if you are ‘able’ to, let’s sit down to help you understand your true options today.
How A Lack of Inventory Impacts the Housing Market
The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest points in years. The market will continue to strengthen in 2018.
However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. Buyer demand naturally increases during the summer months, but supply is not keeping up.
Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at National Association of Realtors
“The worsening inventory crunch through the first three months of the year inflicted even more upward pressure on home prices in a majority of markets. Following the same trend over the last couple of years, a strengthening job market and income gains are not being met by meaningful sales gains because of unrelenting supply and affordability headwinds.”
Sam Khater, Chief Economist for Freddie Mac
“As we head into late spring, the demand for purchase credit remains rock solid, which should set us up for another robust summer home sales season. While this year’s high rates – up 50 basic points from a year ago – have put pressure on the budgets of some home shoppers, weak inventory levels are what’s keeping the housing market from a stronger sales pace.”
Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for Realtor.com
“The dynamics of increased competition and buyer frustration are unlikely to change…In fact, the direction of the trend is pointing to a growing mismatch between the pool of prospective buyers and existing inventory.”
If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.
Days on The Market Drops to New Low in April
According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes were on the market for under a month.
NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, had this to say,
“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this data in May 2011, the median days a listing was on the market was at an all-time low in April, and the share of homes sold in less than a month was at an all-time high.”
Strong buyer demand, a good economy, and a low inventory of new and existing homes for sale created the perfect storm to accelerate the time between listing and signing a contract.
The chart below shows the median days on the market from April 2017 to April 2018:
If you are a homeowner who is debating whether or not to list your home for sale, know that national market conditions are primed for a quick turnaround! Let’s get together to discuss exactly what’s going on in our area, today!
How Access to Your Home Sells It Faster
So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you through the entire process, and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to your potential buyers.
There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is Access, followed by Condition, Financing, and Price. There are many levels of access that you can provide to your agent so that he or she can show your home.
Here are five levels of access that you can give to buyers, along with a brief description:
- Lockbox on the Door – this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
- Providing a Key to the Home – although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
- Open Access with a Phone Call – the seller allows showings with just a phone call’s notice.
- By Appointment Only (example: 48-Hour Notice) – Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.
- Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2pm or for only a couple of hours a day) – This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.
With May proving to be the best month to sell your home, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.
Getting Pre-Approved Should Always Be Your First Step
Shopping for a home is always an exciting experience. And, with todays technology it’s never been easier or more enjoyable. No matter where in the world you are you can shop for a home in a new area. You can find a new home and never leave your old comfy couch. The access to available homes is as easy as it is exciting.
However, the ease of access does not come without some dangers. Shopping for a home is easy- but buying a home can be hard in today’s marketplace. If you’re considering buying a home with a mortgage don’t make the mistake of submitting an offer without being pre approved or pre qualified.
In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.
Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.
Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:
“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”
One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional like myself is that I have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Depending on your needs and situation I can refer the right lender.
Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”
Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:
- Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
- Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
- Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
- Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time
Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.
Pre approval and how it affects your OFFER
The importance of being pre approved can’t be over emphasized. In a competitive marketplace where there are more buyers than homes finding a home and submitting an offer WITHOUT a pre approval letter is likely a huge waste of time. The seller is going to discount the value of your offer in terms of your ability to close. The seller will NOT take your offer seriously in comparison to the other offers in consideration. Why should a seller take your offer seriously if you’ve not done the work to obtain pre approval. Submitting your offer with a pre approval or pre qualified letter enhances the value of the offer and shows the seller your serious. It removes one of the sellers greatest worries- do you have the money to close?
Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. Getting a referral to a lender that helps you get qualified is an important early step in the home purchase process. Without pre approval you’ll have a very frustrating experience.
On the other hand, if you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so. And, you’ll know your offer is received and given full consideration because you’ve done the proper work ahead of time.
Thinking of Selling? Now is the Perfect Time
It is common knowledge that a great number of homes sell during the spring-buying season. For that reason, many homeowners hold off on putting their homes on the market until then. The question is whether or not that will be a good strategy this year.
The other listings that do come out in the spring will represent increased competition to any seller. Do a greater number of homes actually come to the market in the spring as compared to the rest of the year? The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently revealed the months in which most people listed their homes for sale in 2017. Here is a graphic showing the results:
The three months in the second quarter of the year (represented in red) are consistently the most popular months for sellers to list their homes on the market. Last year, the number of homes available for sale in January was 1,680,000.
That number spiked to 1,970,000 by May!
What does this mean to you?
With the national job situation improving, and mortgage interest rates projected to rise later in the year, buyers are not waiting until the spring; they are out looking for homes right now. If you are looking to sell this year, waiting until the spring to list your home means you will have the greatest competition amongst buyers.
It may make sense to beat the rush of housing inventory that will enter the market in the spring and list your home today.
Ready to get started?
Call us at (850) 420-7200 or contact us if you’re ready to explore the possibility of owning your home and we’ll evaluate your situation to determine the best fit for you.