Category Archives: homebuyer

Thinking of Buying a Home? 3 Questions Every Buyer Should Answer First

Thinking of Buying a Home? 3 Questions Every Buyer Should Answer First | Keeping Current Matters

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.

Answering the following 3 questions will help you determine if now is actually a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reveals that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home values are projected to increase by 5.3% over the next 12 months.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, if you are planning on buying a home that costs $250,000 today, that same home will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait till next year. Your down payment will need to be higher as well to account for the higher home price.

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase by approximately three-quarters of a percent over the next twelve months as you can see in the chart below:

Mortgage Rate Projections | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Obstacles to Homeownership: Perceived or Real?

Obstacles to Homeownership: Perceived or Real? | Keeping Current Matters

Yesterday, we discussed the belief Americans have in homeownership and their desire to partake in this piece of the American Dream. We also discussed some of the obstacles preventing them from attaining that goal. However, studies have shown that many of the obstacles mentioned are perceived, not real.

A recent study by Fannie Mae, What Do Consumers Know About The Mortgage Qualification Criteria?, revealed that many consumers are either unsure or misinformed regarding the minimum requirements necessary to obtain a mortgage. Let’s break down three such challenges.

Down Payment

Perceptions

Many renters have mentioned that the lack of an adequate down payment is preventing them from moving forward with the purchase of a home. According to the Fannie Maereport:

  • 40% of all renters don’t know what down payment is required
  • 15% think you need at least 20% down
  • An additional 4% think you need at least 10% down

The Reality

There are programs offered by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA that require as little as 3-3.5% down. VA and USDA loans offer 0% down programs. According to theNational Association of Realtors, the typical down payment for a first time buyer is 6%.

Credit Score

Perceptions

Many renters have mentioned that the lack of an adequate credit score is preventing them from moving forward with the purchase of a home. According to the Fannie Maereport:

  • 54% of all renters don’t know what credit score is required
  • 5% think you need at least a 740 credit score

The Reality

Many mortgages are granted to purchasers with a credit score of less than 700. According to Ellie Mae, the average credit score on a closed FHA purchase is 687 and the average credit score on all loans is 722.

Back End Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)

Perceptions

Many renters have mentioned that they carry too much debt which is preventing them from moving forward with the purchase of a home. According to the Fannie Mae report:

  • 59% of all renters don’t know what DTI is acceptable
  • 25% think you need at under 25%
  • 7% think you need under 39%

The Reality

Lenders like to see a back-end ratio that does not exceed 36%. Fannie Mae’s maximum total DTI ratio is 36% of the borrower’s stable monthly income. The maximum can be exceeded up to 45% based on credit score and other requirements.

Bottom Line

Don’t let a lack of knowledge or misinformation keep your family from buying a home this year. Meet with a local real estate professional who can evaluate your ability to buy now!

NAR’s Latest Existing Home Sales Report [INFOGRAPHIC]

NAR's Latest Existing Home Sales Report [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Why Did Home Sales Drop So Dramatically Last Month?

Why Did Home Sales Drop So Dramatically Last Month? | Keeping Current Matters

Yesterday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest Existing Home Sales Report which covered sales in November. The report revealed that sales:

“…fell 10.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.76 million in November (lowest since April 2014 at 4.75 million)…”

That revelation gave birth to a series of industry articles, some of which quoted pundits questioning whether the housing market was slowing. In actuality, there is one rather simple explanation to much of the falloff in sales last month. It is likely the implementation of the “Know Before You Owe” mortgage rule, commonly known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule, which went into effect on October 3. These regulations caused house closings to be delayed by an extra three days in November as shown in the graph below.

Average Days To Close | Keeping Current Matters

Three days might sound like a minimal difference. However, since there are only approximately 20 days in a month that a closing would normally take place (Mondays through Fridays), losing three days constitutes well over 10% of all closings. These sales are not lost. They are just moved into the next month’s numbers. In a DS Newsarticle on the subject yesterday, Auction.com EVP Rick Sharga explained:

“The most likely cause for the weak sales numbers is a delay in processing loans due to the new TRID mortgage requirements imposed by the CFPB. This is the biggest change in mortgage document processing in many years, and there have been numerous reports within the industry of problems implementing the process and the new documentation that comes with it.”

So how is the housing market actually doing?

A better way to look at how well the housing market is doing is to look at the Foot Traffic Report from NAR which quantifies the number of prospective buyers that are actively looking for a home at the current time:

Foot Traffic Growing | Keeping Current Matters

We can see immediately that demand to buy single family homes is increasing over the last few months – not decreasing.

Bottom Line

No matter what last month’s sales numbers show, the housing market is still doing well as demand remains strong.

Home Prices: Where Are They Headed Over The Next 5 Years?

Home Prices: Where Are They Headed Over The Next 5 Years? | Keeping Current Matters

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where they believe prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

The results of their latest survey:

Home values will appreciate by 3.9% by the end of 2015, 3.4% in 2016 and 3.1% in each of the following four years (as shown below). That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.2% over the next 5 years.

Projected Mean Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters

The prediction for cumulative appreciation rose from 18.1% to 21.6% by 2020. Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 13.8%.

Cumulative House Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

Home Equity Increasing as Home Prices Rise [INFOGRAPHIC]

Home Equity Increasing as Home Prices Rise [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • 91.9% of homes in the US have positive equity
  • 256,000 homes regained equity in the third quarter of 2015
  • 37.5 million homes have significant equity (defined as more than 20%)

Buying A Home? Do You Know The Difference Between Cost & Price?

Buying A Home? Do You Know The Difference Between Cost & Price? | Keeping Current Matters

As a seller, you will be most concerned about ‘short term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, you must be concerned not about price but instead about the ‘long term cost’ of the home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase by about three-quarters of a percentage point over the next twelve months.

According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 5.2% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

Here is a simple demonstration of what impact an interest rate increase would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today if home prices appreciate by the 5.2% predicted by CoreLogic over the next twelve months:

Cost of Waiting | Keeping Current Matters

Homeownership Still Part of the American Dream

Homeownership Still Part of the American Dream | Keeping Current Matters

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just released the first edition of theirHousing Opportunities and Market Experience Survey (H.O.M.E.). NAR explained that the report covers:

“…core topics that will be tracked on a monthly basis such as views on housing as a good financial investment, whether homeownership is part of the American Dream…”

The current survey confirmed two long standing beliefs regarding homeownership:

1. Americans at every income level believe homeownership is part of the American Dream

Homeownership is a Part of the American Dream | Keeping Current Matters

2.)  Americans at every age believe that homeownership is a good financial decision

Homeownership is a Good Financial Decision | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Americans in all age groups and income levels believe in homeownership as a piece of their American Dream. If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine if you are able to.

What You Really Need To Qualify For A Mortgage

What You Really Need To Qualify For A Mortgage | Keeping Current Matters

A recent survey by Ipsos found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is actually necessary to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. The study pointed out two major misconceptions that we want to address today.

1. Down Payment

The survey revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the report, 36% think a 20% down payment is always required. In actuality, there are many loans written with a down payment of 5% or less.

Below are the results of a Digital Risk survey done on Millennials who recently purchased a home.

Millennials & Down Payments | Keeping Current Matters

2. FICO Scores

The Ipsos survey also reported that two-thirds of the respondents believe they need a very good credit score to buy a home, with 45 percent thinking a “good credit score” is over 780. In actuality, the average FICO scores of approved conventional and FHA mortgages are much lower.

Below are the numbers from the latest Ellie Mae report.

Average FICO Score | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are a prospective purchaser who is ‘ready’ and ‘willing’ to buy but not sure if you are also ‘able,’ sit down with someone who can help you understand your true options.

Don’t Let Rising Rents Trap You!

Don't Let Rising Rents Trap You! | Keeping Current Matters

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top ones is being able to protect yourself from rising rents and lock in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com recently reported on what he calls a “Rental Affordability Crisis”. He warns that,

“Low rental vacancies and a lack of new rental construction are pushing up rents, and we expect that they’ll outpace home price appreciation in the year ahead.”

The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University recently released their 2015 Report on Rental Housing, in which they reported that 49% of rental households are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, such as food and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

In Smoke’s article, he went on to say,

“Housing is central to the health and well-being of our country and our local communities. In addition, this (rental affordability) crisis threatens the future value of owned housing, as the burdensome level of rents will trap more aspiring owners into a vicious financial cycle in which they cannot save and build a solid credit record to eventually buy a home.”

 “While more than 85% of markets have burdensome rents today, it’s perplexing that in more than 75% of the counties across the country, it is actually cheaper to buy than rent a home. So why aren’t those unhappy renters choosing to buy?”

Know Your Options

Perhaps, you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire reportedthat analysts at Nomura believe:

“It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment.

It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream home. As we reported last week, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible to get a mortgage.