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3 Questions to Ask If You Want to Buy Your Dream Home

3 Questions to Ask If You Want to Buy Your Dream Home | 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. Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

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

This is truly 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. For example, a survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.” This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans 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 Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in December (the latest data available) was $232,200, up 4.0% from last year. This increase also marks the 58th consecutive month with year-over-year gains. If we look at the numbers year over year, CoreLogic forecasted a rise by 4.7% from December 2016 to December 2017. On a home that costs $250,000 today, that same home will cost you an additional $11,750 if you wait until next year.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, with prices increasing each month, it might cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy.

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 Fannie Mae have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below: 3 Questions to Ask If You Want to Buy Your Dream Home | 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.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on February 15th, 2017 9:51 PMLeave a Comment

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February 11th, 2017 10:04 PM

Buyers Are Searching For Your House

Buyers Are Searching For Your House | Keeping Current Matters The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed a slight bump in contracts with an increase of 1.6% in December. This news comes as existing home sales are also forecasted to be on pace for 5.54 million in 2017, a 1.7% increase over 2016, which was the best year for sales in a decade. The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed. According to NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun,
Pending sales bounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels to sign a contract.

So, what’s the problem?

Buyers are searching for existing homes, but supply is not keeping up with their demand! Yun went on to explain,
The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing cost. Sales will struggle to build on last year’s strong pace if inventory conditions don’t improve.” (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

Buyers are out in force right now! If you are considering selling your home this year, the early months of 2017 will be your best option. Contact a local professional today to capitalize on current market conditions.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on February 11th, 2017 10:04 PMLeave a Comment

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No Matter What the Groundhog Says, Here are 5 Reasons to Sell Before Spring!

No Matter What the Groundhog Says, Here are 5 Reasons to Sell Before Spring! | Keeping Current Matters
Is spring closer than we think? Depending on which groundhog you listen to today, you may have less time than you think to get your home on the market before the busy spring season. Many sellers feel that the spring is the best time to place their homes on the market as buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. However, the next six weeks before spring hits also have their own advantages.

Here are five reasons to sell now.

1. Demand is Strong

Foot traffic refers to the number of people who are out, physically looking at homes right now. The latest foot traffic numbers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show that the number of buyers out looking for their dream homes in December reached the highest mark since February 2016. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now! Take advantage of the strong buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory just dropped to a 3.6-month supply, which is well under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means, in many 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 four years. Many of these homes will be coming to market soon. Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home, while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference). The choices buyers have will increase in the spring. Don’t wait for this other inventory to come to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. There is less overall business done in the winter. Therefore, the process will be less onerous than it will be in the spring. Getting your house sold and closed before the spring delays begin will lend to a smoother transaction.

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 4.7% over the next 12 months 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. You can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 4% right now. Rates are projected to rise by half a percentage point by the end of 2017.

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 back 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 February 2nd, 2017 4:22 PMLeave a Comment

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Thinking of Making an Offer? 4 Tips for Success

Thinking of Making an Offer? 4 Tips for Success | Keeping Current Matters
So you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market that you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee your dream of making this house yours comes true! Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 Tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it's not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”
This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ really should take place before you start your home search process. As we’ve mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.6-month supply; This is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes. Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:
“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”
Consider ways of making your offer stand out! Many buyers write a personal letter to the seller letting them know how much they would love to be the new homeowners. Your agent will be able to help you figure out if there are any other ways your offer could stand out above the rest.

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It's likely that you'll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you'll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford. Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”
If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home. If the inspection uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can typically re-negotiate the terms or cancel the contract.”

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in their market is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting! 

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on January 31st, 2017 12:20 PMLeave a Comment

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January 30th, 2017 10:52 AM

How Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power

How Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power | Keeping Current Matters
According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 4.09%, which is still very low in comparison to recent history! The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power. Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget. The chart below shows what impact rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range, and planned to keep your principal and interest payments at or about $1,100 a month. How Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power | Keeping Current Matters With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5%, (in this example, $6,250). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on January 30th, 2017 10:52 AMLeave a Comment

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Mortgage Rates Break Out of Downward Cycle

The downward slope of mortgage rates has seen a shift in the opposite direction, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS).

The average 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages experienced upward movement for the first time in 2017. The 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.19 percent for the week ended January 26, 2017, rising from 4.09 percent in the previous week. During this time last year, the average 30-year rate was hovering around 3.79 percent.

The 15-year rate averaged 3.40 percent, up from 3.34 percent the previous week and higher than 2015’s 3.07 percent during the same time-period. The report notes that the 30-year rate increase exactly matched the 10-year Treasury yield increase of 10 basis points.

“This week marks the first increase in the mortgage rate since December 29,” stated Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti. He does not expect the higher mortgage rate to cause any significant downward movement in housing prices.

In fact, the shortened supply of homes for sale should keep home prices relatively high for the foreseeable future. “The 2.8 percent decline in existing home sales in December is a reminder of the lack of homes for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors, supply is at its lowest level since 1999, a factor that should support higher house prices regardless of the oscillations of the mortgage rate."

The movement in the rate should not be taken as sign of a continual trend, as the ongoing volatility will likely continue for some time. “Rates have been rather volatile since November, and such moves are not that unusual,” noted HSH.com VP Keith Gumbinger.

Gumbinger goes on to state that “it's a reasonable bet that headlines of higher mortgage rates won't be exactly welcomed by homebuyers or homeowners looking to refinance,” but he doesn’t think that the increase in the rate will have a meaningful effect on borrowers who are in the process of buying a home, as the costs incurred due to the increase are rather minimal.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on January 28th, 2017 11:16 AMLeave a Comment

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January 23rd, 2017 8:35 PM

Have You Saved Enough for Closing Costs?

Have You Saved Enough for Closing Costs? | Keeping Current Matters There are many potential homebuyers, and even sellers, who believe that they need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home or move on to their next home. Time after time, we have dispelled this myth by showing that many loan programs allow you to put down as little as 3% (or 0% with a VA loan). If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have saved enough for your closing costs. Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:
“Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage. These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”
We’ve recently heard from many first-time homebuyers that they wished that someone had let them know that closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment. Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:
  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services (insurance, search fees)
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting fees

Is there any way to avoid paying closing costs?

Work with your lender and real estate agent to see if there are any ways to decrease or defer your closing costs. There are no-closing mortgages available, but they end up costing you more in the end with a higher interest rate, or by wrapping the closing costs into the total cost of the mortgage (meaning you’ll end up paying interest on your closing costs). Home buyers can also negotiate with the seller over who pays these fees. Sometimes the seller will agree to assume the buyer’s closing fees to get the deal finalized, which is known in the industry as ‘seller’s concession.’

Bottom Line

Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on January 23rd, 2017 8:35 PMLeave a Comment

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Will Housing Affordability Be a Challenge in 2017?

Will Housing Affordability Be a Challenge in 2017? | Keeping Current Matters
Some industry experts are saying that the housing market may be heading for a slowdown in 2017 based on rising home prices and a jump in mortgage interest rates. One of the data points they use is the Housing Affordability Index, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Here is how NAR defines the index:
“The Housing Affordability Index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national level based on the most recent price and income data.”
Basically, a value of 100 means a family earning the median income earns enough to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home, based on the price and mortgage interest rates at the time. Anything above 100 means the family has more than enough to qualify. The higher the index, the easier it is to afford a home.

Why the concern?

The index has been declining over the last several years as home values increased. Some are concerned that too many buyers could be priced out of the market. But, wait a minute… Though the index skyrocketed from 2009 through 2013, we must realize during that time the housing crisis left the market with an overabundance of housing inventory with as many as one out of three listings being a distressed property (foreclosure or short sale). All prices dropped dramatically and distressed properties sold at major discounts. Then, mortgage rates fell like a rock. The market is recovering, and values are coming back nicely. That has caused the index to fall. However, let’s remove the crisis years and look at the current index as compared to the index from 1990 – 2008: Will Housing Affordability Be a Challenge in 2017? | Keeping Current Matters We can see that, even though prices have increased, mortgage rates are still lower than historical averages and have put the index in a better position than every year for the nineteen years before the crash.

Bottom Line

The Housing Affordability Index is in great shape and should not be seen as a challenge to the real estate market’s continued recovery. 

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on January 21st, 2017 1:05 PMLeave a Comment

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Why Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step
Why Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step | Keeping Current Matters
In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount 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, knowing 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 is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. 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:
  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. 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.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on January 18th, 2017 12:44 PMLeave a Comment

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You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home
You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home | Keeping Current Matters
Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to do it on their own. In today's market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your "dream home." A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home.

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today's market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way - from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal - you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes. Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family's head; the salary that puts food on their family's table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family? If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal.

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money...not cost you money.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on January 10th, 2017 10:28 AMLeave a Comment

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