Tag Archives: Homeowners

Is it Time to Downsize your Home?

Is it Time to Downsize your Home? | Keeping Current Matters

A recent study by Edelman Berland revealed that of homeowners who are contemplating selling their house in the near future 33% plan to scale down. Let’s look at a few reasons why that would make sense to many Americans.

In a recent blog post, Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, discussed the advantages of selling your current house and downsizing into a smaller home that better serves your current needs. Ramsey explains three potential financial advantages to downsizing:

  1. A smaller home means less space, but it also means less time, stress and money spent on upkeep
  2. Let’s assume you save $500 a month on your mortgage payment. In 30 years, you could have an additional $1–1.6 million in the bank to get you through your golden years.
  3. Use the proceeds from selling your current home to pay cash for a smaller one. Just imagine what you could do with no mortgage holding you down! If you can’t pay cash, aim for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage and put at least 10–20% down on your new home. Apply the $500 you saved from downsizing to your new monthly payment. At 3% interest, you could pay off a $200,000 mortgage in less than 10.5 years, saving almost $16,000 in the process.

Realtor.com also addressed downsizing in a recent article. They suggest you ask yourself some questions before deciding if downsizing is right for you and your family. Here are two of their questions followed by their answers (in italics) and some additional information that could help.

Q: What kind of lifestyle do I want after I downsize?

A: “For some folks, it’s a matter of living a simpler life focused on family. Some might want to cross off travel destinations on their bucket lists. Some might want a low-maintenance community with high-end upgrades and social events. Decide what you want to achieve from your move first, and you’ll be able to better narrow down your housing options.”

Comments: Many homeowners are taking the profit from the sale of their current home and splitting it to put down payments on a smaller home in their current location and a vacation/retirement home where they plan to live when they retire.

This allows them to lock in the home price and mortgage interest rate at today’s values. This makes sense financially as both home prices and interest rates are projected to rise.

Q: Have I built up enough equity in my current home to make a profit?

A: “For most homeowners, the answer is yes. This is if they’ve held on to their properties long enough to have positive equity that will be sizable enough to put a large down payment on their next home.”

Comments: A recent study by Fannie Mae revealed that only 37% of Americans believe they have significant equity (> 20%) in their current home. In actually, 69% have greater than 20% equity. That equity could enable you to build a life you have always dreamt about.

Bottom Line

If you are debating downsizing your home and want to evaluate the options you currently have, meet with a real estate professional in your area who can help guide you through the process.

Home Equity: You May Have More Than You Think

Home Equity: You May Have More Than You Think | Keeping Current Matters

CoreLogic recently released their 2015 2nd Quarter Equity Report which revealed that 759,000 properties had regained equity in the last quarter. That means that 91% of allmortgaged properties (approximately 45.9 million) are now in a positive equity position. Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, reported:

“For much of the country, the negative equity epidemic is lifting. The biggest reason for this improvement has been the relentless rise in home prices over the past three years which reflects increasing money flows into housing and a lack of housing stock in many markets.”

Obviously, this is great news for the financial situation of many homeowners.

But, do they realize their equity position has changed?

A recent study by Fannie Mae suggests that many homeowners are unaware that their equity position has changed…in some cases dramatically. For example, their study showed that 23% of Americans still believe their home is in a negative equity position when, in actuality, only 9% of homes are in that position.

The study also revealed that, though 69% of homes had “significant equity” (greater than 20%), only 37% of Americans realize it.

Significant Equity | Keeping Current Matters

This means that 32% of Americans with a mortgage fail to realize the opportune situation they are in. With a sizeable equity position, many homeowners could easily move into a housing situation that better meets their current needs (moving to a larger home or downsizing).

Fannie Mae spoke out on this issue in their report:

“Homeowners who underestimate their homes’ values not only underestimate their home equity, they also likely underestimate 1) how large a down payment they could make with their home equity, 2) their chances of qualifying for mortgages, and, therefore, 3) their opportunities for selling their current homes and for buying different homes.”

Bottom Line

Every homeowner should be aware of the true equity in their house and also realize the opportunities that go along with it. If you are unsure of the savings you currently have built up in your home, contact a real estate professional to help ascertain that number. You may be surprised.

Over 23% Thinking of Selling. Why the Hesitation?

Over 23% Thinking of Selling. Why the Hesitation? | Keeping Current Matters

Last month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that housing inventory was down 4.7% from the same time last year and that the month’s inventory of homes for sale stood at 4.8 – far below the six months necessary for a normal housing market. Why is there such a shortage of inventory?

The recently released Homeowner Sentiment Survey suggests that the American homeowner may not be fully aware of the opportunities that exist in the current real estate market. The survey, conducted by Edelman Berland for HSF Affiliates, also reports that many homeowners would be placing their home up for sale if they were better informed about today’s market.

Since the housing industry is facing a shortage of housing inventory, the survey’s findings are crucially important.

The survey reported that 23% of current homeowners questioned are considering selling their home, but haven’t yet put it up for sale. That’s almost one out of every four houses. This is the inventory necessary to normalize the balance between “supply & demand” in the current market.

Why are potential sellers hesitating?

The survey shows that 55% of the 23% contemplating selling “would be more likely to put their homes on the market if given more information about the process”. What information do they need?

Here are a few of the challenges that potential sellers perceive to exist according to the survey along with what is actually happening in today’s market:

1. More than half (53%) don’t realize that “the number of homes for sale on the market is lower, giving buyers fewer choices”. As a matter of fact, only 6% of potential sellers believe that listing inventory has recently decreased.

In reality, as we mentioned before, inventory is down from last year.

2. 80% think credit scores make it difficult to get a loan.

In reality, though other studies have shown that many Americans believe that you need a credit score of at least 780 to get a loan when the actual median scores on closed loans are demonstratively lower than that.

3. 76% believe stricter lending requirements make it more difficult to get a mortgage.

In reality, the Mortgage Credit Availability Index shows lending standards have been consistently easing over the last year.

4. 68% think that current homeowners are trapped into their mortgages and are unable to sell their current homes.

In reality, a recent Fannie Mae study revealed that 32% of Americans are dramatically underestimating the current equity in their homes. Many more can afford to make the move they desire.

What’s the answer?

Every family should feel confident when they are buying or selling a home. In order to feel confident they need to truly understand their options and opportunities. HSF Affiliates CEO Gino Blefari put it best when he addressed the findings of the survey:

“Education is essential in today’s market. The stage is set for real estate professionals to connect with consumers, learn their needs and concerns and determine the best way for sellers and buyers to capitalize on the opportunities that exist today.”

The Impact of Rising Prices on Home Appraisals

The Impact of Rising Prices on Home Appraisals | Keeping Current Matters

The fact that residential home prices are increasing substantially in most regions of the country is music to the ears of homeowners. However, if you are in the process of selling your home, make sure you realize the major challenge a hot real estate market creates.

Each house must be sold twice; once to a buyer and a second time to an appraiser who represents the bank that will grant the purchaser a mortgage to buy the home (unless it is an “all cash” purchase). In a real market with escalating prices, the second sale may be the more difficult. And a recent survey by Quicken Loans reveals that the gap between what a homeowner believes is the value of their home compared to an appraiser is widening.

Appraisal vs. Homeowner Value | Keeping Current Matters

This could lead to an increase in the percentage of real estate transactions being challenged by a ‘short’ appraisal (where the appraiser value is less than the contracted price of the home).

Bottom Line

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you must be prepared for this possibility as it may result in a renegotiation of the price of the home.

Annual Street Repairs Scheduled to Start in Elk Grove Neighborhoods

Public Information Office, Elk Grove Police Department

**New slurry seal and asphalt overlays will restore neighborhood streets to like new condition**

Preventing potholes and keeping local streets in good condition is the goal of the City’s annual Street Repair Project. The City’s Public Works Department has announced that pavement maintenance work scheduled in several neighborhoods throughout Elk Grove will begin next week and extend through November.

Annual pavement maintenance projects extend the life of the pavement and avoid more costly repair or replacement of streets. The pavement maintenance being done this year includes asphalt slurry seal and asphalt overlay. This work includes replacing small areas of damaged pavement, sealing cracks, placement of the slurry seal or asphalt overlay treatment, and replacing striping as needed. The work will restore the surface quality to like new condition.

This work requires temporary full street closures. During the closures, residents will need to park their vehicles on adjacent streets until the roads are reopened to traffic. Barricades with “No Parking” signs will be placed on affected streets 48 hours in advance of the street closures. Residents affected by the work will also receive door hanger notices not less than 3 days in advance of the scheduled operations. A complete listing and map of the streets scheduled for repairs can be found on the City’s web site at www.elkgrovecity.org/street-repair.

Preparation activities such as crack sealing and replacement of damaged pavement will begin as early as Monday, September 28th. Slurry seal operations are expected to begin on October 22nd and continue through November 5th. Asphalt overlay and final striping will take place in late October and early November.

The City appreciates the public’s patience during these pavement maintenance activities. For more information regarding the project, please visit the web page or call the City’s Public Works hotline (916) 478-2256.

Stop Paying Your Landlord’s Mortgage!

Stop Paying Your Landlord's Mortgage | Keeping Current Matters

There are some people that have not purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either your mortgage or your landlord’s.

As The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.  

That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Christina Boyle, a Senior Vice President, Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

The graph below shows the widening gap in net worth between a homeowner and a renter:

Increasing Gap in Family Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting since home values and interest rates are projected to climb.

Should I Rent My House Instead of Selling It?

Should I Rent My House Instead of Selling It?  | Keeping Current Matters

The results of Fannie Mae’s June 2015 National Housing Survey, were just released showing that more and more homeowners are warming up to the idea that now may be a great time to sell their home.

The amount of respondents that stated that now is a good time to sell rose three percentage points to a survey high of 52%; which may translate to a healthier market as more homes are listed in the coming months.

At the same time “the percentage of respondents who expect home rental prices to go up rose to 59% – a new survey high.” Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, gave this insight: “The expectation of higher rents is a natural outgrowth of increasing household formation by newly employed individuals putting upward pressure on rental rates.”

There is a chance that those who believe rental prices will rise may consider renting their house rather than selling it at this time.

However, if you have no desire to actually become an educated investor in this sector, you may be headed for more trouble than you were looking for. Are you ready to be a landlord?

Before renting your home, you should answer the following questions to make sure this is the right course of action for you and your family.

10 Questions to ask BEFORE renting your home

  1. How will you respond if your tenant says they can’t afford to pay the rent this month because of more pressing obligations? (This happens most often during holiday season and back-to-school time when families with children have extra expenses).
  2. Because of the economy, many homeowners cannot make their mortgage payment. What percentage of tenants do you think cannot afford to pay their rent?
  3. Have you interviewed experienced eviction attorneys in case a challenge does arise?
  4. Have you talked to your insurance company about a possible increase in premiums as liability is greater in a non-owner occupied home?
  5. Will you allow pets? Cats? Dogs? How big a dog?
  6. How will you actually collect the rent? By mail? In person?
  7. Repairs are part of being a landlord. Who will take tenant calls when necessary repairs come up?
  8. Do you have a list of craftspeople readily available to handle these repairs?
  9. How often will you do a physical inspection of the property?
  10. Will you alert your current neighbors that you are renting the house?

Bottom Line

Renting out residential real estate historically is a great investment. However, it is not without its challenges. Make sure you have decided to rent the house because you want to be an investor, not because you are hoping to get a few extra dollars by postponing a sale.

There’s No Place Like Home

 

Last week, we reported on the financial reasons purchasing a home in today’s market makes sense. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University performs a study every year surveying participants for the reasons that American’s feel are most important in regards to homeownership.
Last week, we reported on the financial reasons purchasing a home in today’s market makes sense. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University performs a study every year surveying participants for the reasons that American’s feel are most important in regards to homeownership.

 

The top 4 reasons to own a home cited by respondents were not financial.

1. It means having a good place to raise children & provide them with a good education

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

2. You have a physical structure where you & your family feel safe

It is no surprise that having a place to call home with all that means in comfort and security is the #2 reason.

3. It allows you to have more space for your family

Whether your family is expanding, or an older family member is moving in, having a home that fits your needs is a close third on the list.

4. It gives you control over what you do with your living space, like renovations and updates

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t in your own home?

The 5th reason on the list, is the #1 financial reason to buy a home as seen by respondents:

5. Owning a home is a good way to build up wealth that can be passed along to my family

Either way you are paying a mortgage. Why not lock in your housing expense now with an investment that will build equity that you can borrow against in the future?

Bottom Line

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