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Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult?

Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult? | Keeping Current Matters There is no doubt that mortgage credit availability is expanding, meaning it is easier to finance a home today than it was last year. However, the mortgage market is still much tighter than it was prior to the housing boom and bust experienced between 2003 - 2006. The Housing Financing Policy Center at the Urban Institute just released data revealing two reasons for the current exceptionally high credit standards:
  1. Additional restrictions lenders put on borrowing because of concerns that they will be forced to repurchase failed loans from the government-sponsored enterprises or Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
  2. The concern about potential litigation for imperfect loans.

What has been the result of these concerns?

6.3 Million Less Mortgages

The Policy Center report went on to say:
"It was so hard to get a mortgage in 2015 that lenders failed to make about 1.1 million mortgages that they would have made if reasonable lending standards had been in place. From 2009 to 2014, lenders failed to make about 5.2 million mortgages thanks to overly tight credit. In total, lenders would have issued 6.3 million additional mortgages between 2009 and 2015 if lending standards had been more reasonable."
In an interview with DSNews, Laurie Goodman and Alanna McCargo of the Policy Center further explained:
"Our Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI)* measures the probability that mortgage borrowers will become delinquent on that mortgage for 90 or more days, which we refer to as the default risk. This measure indicates that the probability of default rose from 12 percent in 2001 to a peak of 16.5 percent at the end of 2005/beginning of 2006, before declining to the current level of 5 percent. Stated differently, lenders are currently taking less than half the credit risk they were taking in 2001, a period of reasonable credit standards."

The cost to the economy if we're writing fewer loans...

Goodman and McCargo put it best:
"...fewer households will become homeowners at exactly the point in the economic cycle when it is most advantageous to do so... [They] will continue to miss this wealth-building opportunity. The median family wealth for homeowners is $195,400, with their home the most valuable asset for most; the median family wealth for renters is $5,400... Fewer potential homebuyers means the housing market will continue to recover more slowly. At the same time, fewer buyers create a strain on other benefits to the economy which homebuying brings such as spending on home goods and an increase in construction jobs."

Bottom Line

The housing market boom and bust caused many mortgage providers and lenders to tighten their lending standards in an effort not to repeat the recent past. This paired with many homebuyers disqualifying themselves before they even apply for a loan, due to the fear of rejection, has led to many households not yet becoming homeowners.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on November 30th, 2016 9:39 PMLeave a Comment

Why Are Mortgage Interest Rates Increasing?

Why Are Mortgage Interest Rates Increasing? | Keeping Current Matters According to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rate jumped up to 3.94% last week. Interest rates had been hovering around 3.5% since June, and many are wondering why there has been such a significant increase so quickly.

Why did rates go up?

Whenever there is a presidential election, there is uncertainty in the markets as to who will win. One way that this is noticeable is through the actions of investors. As we get closer to the first Tuesday of November, many investors pull their funds from the more volatile and less predictive stock market and instead, choose to invest in Treasury Bonds. When this happens, the interest rate on Treasury Bonds does not have to be as high to entice investors to buy them, so interest rates go down. Once the elections are over and a President has been elected, investors return to the stock market and other investments, leaving the Treasury to raise rates to make bonds more attractive again. Simply put, the better the economy, the higher interest rates will go. For a more detailed explanation of the many factors that contribute to whether interest rates go up or down, you can follow this link to Investopedia.

The Good News

Even though rates are closer to 4% than they have been in nearly 6 months, they are still slightly below where we started 2016, at 3.97%. The great news is that even at 4%, rates are still significantly lower than they have been over the last 4 decades, as you can see in the chart below. Why Are Mortgage Interest Rates Increasing? | Keeping Current Matters Any increase in interest rate will impact your monthly housing costs when you secure a mortgage to buy your home. A recent Wall Street Journal article points out that, "While still only roughly half the average over the past 45 years, according to Freddie Mac, the quick rise has lenders worried that home loans could become more expensive far sooner than anticipated." Tom Simons, a Senior Economist at Jefferies LLC, touched on another possible outcome for higher rates:
"First-time buyers look at the monthly total, at what they can afford, so if the mortgage is eaten up by a higher interest expense then there's less left over for price, for the principal. Buyers will be shopping in a lower price bracket; thus demand could shift a bit."

Bottom Line

Interest rates are impacted by many factors, and even though they have increased recently, rates would have to reach 9.1% for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven't been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on November 28th, 2016 9:58 PMLeave a Comment

November 21st, 2016 6:21 PM

Winter Is Coming... 5 Reasons to Sell Now!

Winter Is Coming... 5 Reasons to Sell Now! | Keeping Current Matters People across the country are beginning to think about what their life will look like next year. It happens every fall; we ponder whether we should relocate to a different part of the country to find better year-round weather, or perhaps move across the state for better job opportunities. Homeowners in this situation must consider whether they should sell their house now or wait.

If you are one of these potential sellers, here are five important reasons to sell now instead of in the dead of winter.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Realtors' Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase... and are in the market right now! Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

According to NAR's latest Existing Home Sales Report, the supply of homes for sale is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market (which is 4.5-months). This means, in most areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market soon. Also, as builders regain confidence in the market, new construction of single-family homes is projected to continue to increase, reaching historic levels in 2017. Last month's new home sales numbers show that many buyers who have not been able to find their dream homes within the existing inventory have turned to new construction to fulfill their needs. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don't wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Fannie Mae announced that they anticipate an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007's pace. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. According to Freddie Mac's latest report, you can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 3.57% right now. Interest rates are projected to increase moderately over the next 12 months. Even a small increase in rate will have a big impact on your housing cost.

5. It's Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should? Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on November 21st, 2016 6:21 PMLeave a Comment

November 15th, 2016 3:56 PM
The Truth About Housing Affordability
The Truth About Housing Affordability | Keeping Current Matters
From a purely economic perspective, this is one of the best times in American history to buy a home. Black Night Financial Services discusses this in their most recent Monthly Mortgage Monitor. Here are two of the report's revelations:
  1. The average U.S. home value increased by $13,500 from last year, but low interest rates have kept the monthly principal & interest payment needed to purchase a median-priced home almost equal to one year ago.
  2. Home affordability still remains favorable compared to long-term historic norms.
The report explains:
"Even though the value of the average home in the U.S. increased by about $13,500 over the last year, thanks to declining interest rates it actually costs almost exactly the same in principal and interest each month to purchase as it did this time last year. Even taking into account the fact that affordability can vary - sometimes significantly - across the country based upon the different rates of home price appreciation we're seeing, that's a pretty incredible balancing act between interest rates and home prices at the national level... Right now, it takes 20 percent of the median monthly income to cover monthly payments on the median-priced home, which is well below historical norms." However, the report warns that affordability will be dramatically impacted by an increase in mortgage rates. "A half-point increase in interest rates would be equivalent to a $17,000 jump in the average home price, and bring that ratio to 21.5 percent. This increase is still below historical norms, but puts more pressure on homebuyers."

Bottom Line

If you are ready and willing to purchase a home of your own, find out if you're able to. Now is a great time to jump in.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on November 15th, 2016 3:56 PMLeave a Comment

NAR Reports Show Now Is a Great Time to Sell!
NAR Reports Show Now Is a Great Time to Sell! | Keeping Current Matters
We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when demand is high and the supply of that item is limited. The last two major reports issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed information that suggests that now continues to be a great time to sell your house. Let's look at the data covered by the latest Pending Home Sales Report and Existing Home Sales Report.

THE PENDING HOME SALES REPORT

The report announced that pending home sales (homes going into contract) are up 2.4% over last year, and have increased year-over-year now for 22 of the last 25 consecutive months. Lawrence Yun, NAR's Chief Economist, had this to say:
"The one major predicament in the housing market is without a doubt the painfully low levels of housing inventory in much of the country. It's leading to home prices outpacing wages, properties selling a lot quicker than a year ago and the home search for many prospective buyers being highly competitive and drawn out because of a shortage of listings at affordable prices."
Takeaway: Demand for housing will continue throughout the end of 2016 and into 2017. The seasonal slowdown often felt in the winter months did not occur last winter and shows no signs of returning this year.

THE EXISTING HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data point revealed in the report was not sales, but was instead the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:
  • Total housing inventory rose 1.5% to 2.04 million homes available for sale
  • That represents a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace
  • Unsold inventory is 6.8% lower than a year ago, marking the 16th consecutive month with year-over-year declines
There were two more interesting comments made by Yun in the report:
"Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in. Unfortunately, there won't be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand."
In real estate, there is a guideline that often applies; when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller's market and we will see appreciation. Between 6-7 months is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer's market and should expect depreciation in home values. As Yun notes, we are, and will remain, in a seller's market with prices still increasing unless more listings come to the market.
"There's hope the leap in sales to first-time buyers can stick through the rest of the year and into next spring. The market fundamentals -- primarily consistent job gains and affordable mortgage rates -- are there for the steady rise in first-timers needed to finally reverse the decline in the homeownership rate."
Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market. Prices will continue to rise if a 'sizable' supply does not enter the market.

Bottom Line

If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers that are still out looking for your house.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on November 11th, 2016 4:36 PMLeave a Comment

November 10th, 2016 9:30 AM
How Long Do Families Stay in a Home?
How Long Do Families Stay in a Home? | Keeping Current Matters
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historic data on many aspects of homeownership. One of the data points that has changed dramatically is the median tenure of a family in a home. As the graph below shows, for over twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2008, that average is almost nine years - an increase of almost 50%. How Long Do Families Stay in a Home? | Keeping Current Matters

Why the dramatic increase?

The reasons for this change are plentiful. The top two reasons are:
  1. The fall in home prices during the housing crisis left many homeowners in a negative equity situation (where their home was worth less than the mortgage on the property).
  2. The uncertainty of the economy made some homeowners much more fiscally conservative about making a move.
However, with home prices rising dramatically over the last several years, over 90% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situation with 70% of them having at least 20% equity. And, with the economy coming back and wages starting to increase, many homeowners are in a much better financial situation than they were just a few short years ago.

What does this mean for housing?

Many believe that a large portion of homeowners are not in a house that is best for their current family circumstances. They could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple planning to start a family that currently lives in a one-bedroom condo. These homeowners are ready to make a move. Since the lack of housing inventory is a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on November 10th, 2016 9:30 AMLeave a Comment

Taking the Fear out of the Mortgage Process
Taking the Fear out of the Mortgage Process | Keeping Current Matters
A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainty about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn't have to be!

In order to qualify in today's market, you'll need to have saved for a down payment (the average down payment on all loans was 11% last month, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income and good credit history. Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals, all of which perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you. Once you're ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests to follow:
  1. Find out your current credit history & score - even if you don't have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score of all closed loans in September was 731, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all of your documentation - income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional - your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer that can help you develop a spending plan, as well as determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender - he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval - a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn't change), and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying!

Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure that you are ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on November 9th, 2016 9:50 AMLeave a Comment

Don't Disqualify Yourself... Over Half of All Loans Approved Have a FICO Score Under 750
Don't Disqualify Yourself... Over Half of All Loans Approved Have a FICO Score Under 750 | Keeping Current Matters
The results of countless studies have shown that potential home buyers, and even current homeowners, have an inflated view of what is really required to qualify for a mortgage in today's market. One such study by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, revealed that many Millennials have not yet considered purchasing a home, simply because they don't believe they can qualify for a mortgage. The article quoted Jessica Lautz, the National Association of Realtors' Managing Director of Survey Research, as saying that there is a significant population that does not think they will be approved for a mortgage and doesn't even try. The article also quoted Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos:
"I do think that there's a sense out there in the marketplace among borrowers that credit may not be available, especially for people with lower credit scores."
Ellie Mae's Vice President, Jonas Moe recently encouraged buyers to know their options before assuming that they do not qualify for a mortgage:
"Many potential home buyers are 'disqualifying' themselves. You don't need a 750 FICO Score and a 20% down payment to buy."

So what credit score is necessary?

Below is a breakdown of the FICO Score Distribution of all closed (approved) loans in August from Ellie Mae's latest Origination Report. slide1 Over 50% of all approved loans had a FICO Score under 750. Many potential home buyers believe that they need a score over 780 to qualify.

Bottom Line

If owning a home of your own has always been a dream of yours and you are ready and willing to buy, find out if you are able to! Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine if your dreams can become a reality sooner than you thought!

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 25th, 2016 1:03 PMLeave a Comment

October 19th, 2016 3:26 PM
Starting to Look for a Home? Know What You WANT vs. What You NEED
Starting to Look for a Home? Know What You WANT vs. What You NEED | Keeping Current Matters
In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is really important to know what you're looking for when you start your home search. If you've been thinking about buying a home of your own for some time now, you've probably come up with a list of things that you'd LOVE to have in your new home. Many new homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on television or Pinterest, and start looking at the countless homes listed for sale with rose-colored glasses. Do you really need that farm sink in the kitchen in order to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the man cave of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make or break now? The first step in your home buying process should be to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it. The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:
  • 'Must Haves' - if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn't even be considered. (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms)
  • 'Should Haves' - if the property hits all of the must haves and some of the should haves, it stays in contention, but does not need to have all of these features.
  • 'Absolute Wish List' - if we find a property in our budget that has all of the 'must haves,' most of the 'should haves,' and ANY of these, it's the winner!

Bottom Line

Having this list flushed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration, while also letting your agent know what features are most important to you before starting to show you houses in your desired area.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 19th, 2016 3:26 PMLeave a Comment

The Role Access Plays in Getting Your House SOLD!
The Role Access Plays in Getting Your House SOLD! | Keeping Current Matters
So you've decided to sell your house. You've hired a real estate professional to help you with the entire process and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to 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 could provide to your agent to be able to show your home.

Here are five levels of access that you could give a buyer with a brief description:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Open Access with a Phone Call - the seller allows showing with just a phone call's notice.
  4. By Appointment Only (example: 48 Hour Notice) - Many out-of-town/state buyers and relocation buyers visit an area they would like to move to and only have the weekend to view homes. They may not be able to plan that far in advance, or may be unable to wait the 48 hours to be shown the house.
  5. 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.
In a competitive marketplace, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 18th, 2016 4:20 PMLeave a Comment

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