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Home Sellers: There Is an Extra Way To Welcome Home Our Veterans

Home Sellers: There Is an Extra Way To Welcome Home Our Veterans | Simplifying The Market

Some veterans are finding it difficult to obtain a home in today’s market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Conventional conforming mortgages (mortgages that conform to guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), accounted for 74% of mortgages obtained by homebuyers in May 2021, an increase from about 65% during 2018 through 2019…The share of VA-guaranteed loans has also decreased to 7% in May 2021 from about 10% in past years.”

Recent data in the latest Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae sheds light on the continuation of this trend. Below, we can see just how small of a share of total financing VA loans made up in June of 2021, according to that Ellie Mae report:Home Sellers: There Is an Extra Way To Welcome Home Our Veterans | Simplifying The Market The drop in VA loan usage can be attributed to the difficulties veterans continue to face when buying a home. The NAR article elaborates:

“It is extremely difficult for FHA/VA buyers to get accepted in a multiple offer situation. They are on the bottom of the hierarchy.”

One contributing factor is that buyers with VA loans can’t waive certain contingencies. However, just because a certain contingency must be present for a particular buyer doesn’t mean that buyer’s offer shouldn’t be considered.

What Should Sellers Do To Help Create a Level Playing Field?

As a seller, it’s important to consider every offer in front of you regardless of loan type. If you’re selecting an offer because some contingencies are waived, keep in mind that it doesn’t always mean the offer is what’s best for you.

Buyers who can’t waive specific contingencies may adjust other terms in their offer to make it more appealing to sellers. This may depend on several factors, including their loan type and location, but a motivated buyer and their agent will do everything they can to present an offer that’s as appealing to you as possible.

Ultimately, you should make sure you take time to really understand the terms of their offer and see the big picture. Working with a driven buyer who’s motivated to purchase your house may provide a better opportunity for you to reach your overall best option and what’s most important to you.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to sell, let’s connect. Together, we can make sure you understand the terms of all offers so you can give each one fair consideration, including those buyers using a VA loan. Our veterans sacrifice so much for our country. They’ve earned our gratitude and should have the same opportunity to obtain the home of their dreams.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

4 Reasons Why the End of Forbearance Will Not Lead to a Wave of Foreclosures

4 Reasons Why the End of Forbearance Will Not Lead to a Wave of Foreclosures | Simplifying The Market

With forbearance plans about to come to an end, many are concerned the housing market will experience a wave of foreclosures like what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago. Here are four reasons why that won’t happen.

1. There are fewer homeowners in trouble this time

After the last housing crash, about 9.3 million households lost their home to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they simply gave it back to the bank.

As stay-at-home orders were issued early last year, the overwhelming fear was the pandemic would decimate the housing industry in a similar way. Many experts projected 30% of all mortgage holders would enter the forbearance program. Only 8.5% actually did, and that number is now down to 3.5%.

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at 1,863,000. That’s definitely a large number, but nowhere near 9.3 million.

2. Most of the 1.86M in forbearance have enough equity to sell their home

Of the 1.86 million homeowners currently in forbearance, 87% have at least 10% equity in their homes. The 10% equity number is important because it enables homeowners to sell their houses and pay the related expenses instead of facing the hit on their credit that a foreclosure or short sale would create.

The remaining 13% might not all have the option to sell, so if the entire 13% of the 1.86M homes went into foreclosure, that would total 241,800 mortgages. To give that number context, here are the annual foreclosure numbers of the three years leading up to the pandemic:

  • 2017: 314,220
  • 2018: 279,040
  • 2019: 277,520

The probable number of foreclosures coming out of the forbearance program is nowhere near the number of foreclosures coming out of the housing crash 15 years ago. The number does, however, draw a similar comparison to the three years prior to the pandemic.

3. The current market can absorb any listings coming to the market

When foreclosures hit the market in 2008, there was an excess supply of homes for sale. The situation is exactly the opposite today. In 2008, there was a 9-month supply of listings for sale. Today, that number stands at less than 3 months of inventory on the market.

As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains when addressing potential foreclosures emerging from the forbearance program:

“Any foreclosure increases will likely be quickly absorbed by the market. It will not lead to any price declines.”

4. Those in power will do whatever is necessary to prevent a wave of foreclosures

Just last Friday, the White House released a fact sheet explaining how homeowners with government-backed mortgages will be given further options to enable them to keep their homes when exiting forbearance. Here are two examples mentioned in the release:

  • “For homeowners who can resume their pre-pandemic monthly mortgage payment and where agencies have the authority, agencies will continue requiring mortgage servicers to offer options that allow borrowers to move missed payments to the end of the mortgage at no additional cost to the borrower.”
  • “The new steps the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are announcing will aim to provide homeowners with a roughly 25% reduction in borrowers’ monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments to ensure they can afford to remain in their homes and build equity long-term. This brings options for homeowners with mortgages backed by HUD, USDA, and VA closer in alignment with options for homeowners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

When evaluating the four reasons above, it’s clear there won’t be a flood of foreclosures coming to the market as the forbearance program winds down.

Bottom Line

As Ivy Zelman, founder of the major housing market analytical firm Zelman & Associates, notes:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | Simplifying The Market

One of the hottest topics of conversation in today’s real estate market is the shortage of available homes. Simply put, there are many more potential buyers than there are homes for sale. As a seller, you’ve likely heard that low supply is good news for you. It means your house will get more attention, and likely, more offers. But as life begins to return to normal, you may be wondering if that’s something that will change.

While it may be tempting to blame the pandemic for the current inventory shortage, the pandemic can’t take all the credit. While it did make some sellers hold off on listing their houses over the past year, the truth is the low supply of homes was years in the making. Let’s take a look at the root cause and what the future holds to uncover why now is still a great time to sell.

Where Did the Shortage Come From?

It’s not just today’s high buyer demand. Our low supply goes hand-in-hand with the number of new homes built over the past decades. According to Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes.”

Data in a recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) tells the same story. New home construction has been lagging behind the norm for quite some time. Historically, builders completed an average of 1.5 million new housing units per year. However, since the housing bubble in 2008, the level of new home construction has fallen off (see graph below):A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | Simplifying The Market The same NAR report elaborates on the impact of this below-average pace of construction:

. . . the underbuilding gap in the U.S. totaled more than 5.5 million housing units in the last 20 years.”

“Looking ahead, in order to fill an underbuilding gap of approximately 5.5 million housing units during the next 10 years, while accounting for historical growth, new construction would need to accelerate to a pace that is well above the current trend, to more than 2 million housing units per year. . . .”

That means if we build even more new houses than the norm every year, it’ll still take a decade to close the underbuilding gap contributing to today’s supply-and-demand mix. Does that mean today’s ultimate sellers’ market is here to stay?

We’re already starting to see an increase in new home construction, which is great news. But newly built homes can’t bridge the supply gap we’re facing right now on their own. In the State of the Nation’s Housing 2021 Report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) says:

“…Although part of the answer to the nation’s housing shortage, new construction can only do so much to ease short-term supply constraints. To meet today’s strong demand, more existing single-family homes must come on the market.

Early Indicators Show More Existing-Home Inventory Is on Its Way

When we look at existing homes, the latest reports signal that housing supply is growing gradually month-over-month. This uptick in existing homes for sale shows things are beginning to shift. Based on recent data, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, has this to say:

“It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, echoes that sentiment:

“As the inventory is beginning to pick up ever so modestly, we are still facing a housing shortage, but we may have turned a corner.”

So, what does all of this mean for you? Just because life is starting to return to normal, it doesn’t mean you missed out on the best time to sell. It’s not too late to take advantage of today’s sellers’ market and use rising equity and low interest rates to make your next move.

Bottom Line

It’s still a great time to sell. Even though housing supply is starting to trend up, it’s still hovering near historic lows. Let’s connect to discuss how you can list your house now and use the inventory shortage to get the best possible terms for you.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now | Simplifying The Market

If you’re a prospective buyer or seller, it’s important to understand the current real estate market conditions and how they affect you. The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) just released its Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate report. Here are three hot topics from the list and how they impact today’s housing market.

Technology Acceleration and Innovation

The past year ushered in many changes to the real estate industry, especially when it comes to technology. The CRE report elaborates on this:

“Lockdown-driven changes in our work, in the economy, in social structures, and in our personal behavior have pushed our reluctance aside. The acceleration and adoption of technology during the pandemic has impacted everything, and real estate is no exception.

For real estate, innovations like digital documentation, virtual tours, and video chat enable agents to connect with clients no matter their location. These options are ideal for prospective buyers and sellers who aren’t local to the area or those that need the added flexibility signing documents online or doing virtual tours provide. That’s why many trusted real estate advisors will continue to use these technologies moving forward to best serve their clients.

Remote Work and Mobility

Working from home became the reality for many individuals during the pandemic, and the latest list from the CRE identified remote work and mobility as an important influence on the real estate market. As the report notes:

the pandemic universally caused a movement away from urban cores, particularly for those with higher incomes who could afford to move and for lower-income individuals seeking lower costs of living. Most of these relocations remained within their original region—84%—and, while some are returning, it is unknown as to the permanence of these movements or whether they represent a true urban exodus.

With the added mobility remote work offers, where people are moving and where they can ultimately purchase a home is less dependent on a physical office location. This newfound flexibility is giving remote workers the opportunity to move to more affordable areas and buy more home for their money.

Housing Supply and Affordability

Finally, the limited supply of houses for sale and the related affordability challenges also makes CRE’s list of key factors this year:

“According to the National Association of Realtors®, the state of America’s housing inventory is dire, with a chronic shortage of affordable and available homes needed to support the nation’s population.”

There is good news. Homes are still more affordable than they have been historically thanks to today’s low mortgage rates. And while housing supply is still low, we’re seeing steady increases in the number of homes coming to market, which gives hope to homebuyers. As the supply of homes for sale improves, buyers will have more options.

Bottom Line

New technology, remote work, housing supply, and home affordability are key factors in the housing market right now for both buyers and sellers. If you want to better understand how these topics can impact you, let’s connect today.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Pop Quiz: Can You Define These Key Terms in Today’s Housing Market? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Pop Quiz: Can You Define These Key Terms in Today’s Housing Market? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Pop Quiz: Can You Define These Key Terms in Today’s Housing Market? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • The language of buying and selling a home may sound scary at first, but knowing how key terms relate to today’s market can help you. For example, current low mortgage rates and higher wages positively impact affordability for buyers, while home price appreciation continues to grow home equity, which sellers can use to fuel a move up.
  • Terms like appraisal (what lenders rely on to validate a home’s value) and contingencies (which buyers can minimize to make their offer stand out) directly impact the transaction.
  • You don’t need to be fluent in the language of the market to buy or sell. Instead, let’s connect today so that we can translate the process together.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Today’s Real Estate Market Explained Through 4 Key Trends

Today’s Real Estate Market Explained Through 4 Key Trends | Simplifying The Market

As we move into the second half of the year, one thing is clear: the current real estate market is one for the record books. The exact mix of conditions we have today creates opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Here’s a look at four key components that are shaping this unprecedented market.

A Shortage of Homes for Sale

Earlier this year, the number of homes available for sale fell to an all-time low. In recent months, however, inventory levels are starting to trend up. The latest Monthly Housing Market Trends Report from realtor.com says:

“In June, newly listed homes grew by 5.5% on a year-over-year basis, and by 10.9% on a month-over-month basis. Typically, fewer newly listed homes appear on the market in the month of June compared to May. This year, growth in new listings is continuing later into the summer season, a welcome sign for a tight housing market.”

This is good news for buyers who crave more options. But even though we’re experiencing small gains in the number of available homes for sale, inventory remains a challenge in most states. That’s why it’s still a sellers’ market, giving homeowners immense leverage when they decide to make a move.

Buyer Competition and Bidding Wars

Today’s ongoing low supply, coupled with high demand, creates a market characterized by high buyer competition and bidding wars. Buyers are going above and beyond to make sure their offer stands out from the crowd by offering over the asking price, all cash, or waiving some contingencies. The number of offers on the average house for sale broke records this year – and that’s great news for sellers.

The latest Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says the average home for sale receives five offers (see graph below):Today’s Real Estate Market Explained Through 4 Key Trends | Simplifying The Market For buyers, the best way to put a compelling offer together is by working with a local real estate professional. That agent can act as your trusted advisor on what terms are best for you and what’s most appealing to the seller.

Home Price Appreciation

The competition among buyers is driving prices up. Over the past year, we’ve seen home price appreciation rise across the country. According to the most recent Home Price Index (HPI) from CoreLogic, national home prices increased 15.4% year-over-year in May:

“The May 2021 HPI gain was up from the May 2020 gain of 4.2% and was the highest year-over-year gain since November 2005. Low mortgage rates and low for-sale inventory drove the increase in home prices.”

Rising home values are a big part of why real estate remains one of the top sought-after investments for Americans. For potential sellers, it also means it’s a great time to list your house to maximize the return on your investment.

A Rise in Home Values and Equity

The equity in a home doesn’t just grow when a homeowner pays their mortgage – it also grows as the home’s value appreciates. Thanks to the jump in price appreciation, homeowners across the country are seeing record-breaking gains in home equity. CoreLogic recently reported:

“…homeowners with mortgages (which account for roughly 62% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by 19.6% year over year, representing a collective equity gain of over $1.9 trillion, and an average gain of $33,400 per borrower, since the first quarter of 2020.”

That’s a major perk for households to leverage. Homeowners can use that equity to accomplish major life goals or move into their dream homes.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying or selling, there’s no time like the present. Let’s connect to talk about how you can take advantage of the conditions we’re seeing today to meet your homeownership goals.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Remote Work Has Changed Our Home Needs. Is It Time for Your Home To Change, Too?

Remote Work Has Changed Our Home Needs. Is It Time for Your Home To Change, Too? | Simplifying The Market

Over the past year, many homeowners realized what they need in a home is changing, especially with the rise in remote work. If you’re longing for a dedicated home office or a change in scenery, now may be the time to find the home that addresses your evolving needs.

Working from Home Isn’t a Passing Fad

Before the pandemic, only 21% of individuals worked from home. However, if you’ve recently discovered remote work is your new normal, you’re not alone.

A survey of hiring managers conducted by Statista and Upwork projects 37.5% of U.S. workers will work remotely in some capacity over the next 5 years (see chart below):Remote Work Has Changed Our Home Needs. Is It Time for Your Home To Change, Too? | Simplifying The Market

Working from Home Gives You More Flexibility and More Options

If you fall in that category, working from home may provide you with opportunities you didn’t realize you had. The ongoing rise in remote work means a portion of the workforce no longer needs to be tied to a specific area for their job. Instead, it gives those workers more flexibility when it comes to where they can live.

If you’re one of the nearly 23% of workers who will remain 100% remote, you have the option to move to a lower cost-of-living area or to the location of your dreams. If you search for a home in a more affordable area, you’ll be able to get more house for your money, freeing up more options for your dedicated office space and more breathing room. You could also move to an area you’ve always dreamed of vacationing in – somewhere near the beach, the mountains, or simply an area that features better weather and community amenities. Without your job tying you to a specific location, you’re bound to find your ideal spot.

If you’re one of the almost 15% of individuals who will have a partially remote or hybrid schedule, relocating within your local area to a home that’s further away from your office could be a great choice. Since you won’t be going into work every day, a slightly longer commute from a more suburban or rural area could be a worthy trade-off for a home with more features, space, or comforts. After all, if you’ll still be at home part-time, why not find a home that better suits your needs?

According to the latest Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate from The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE), many homebuyers are already taking advantage of their newfound flexibility:

“. . . after years of apparent but variant trends towards urbanization, the pandemic universally caused a movement away from urban cores, particularly for those with higher incomes who could afford to move and for lower-income individuals seeking lower costs of living.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve found what you’re looking for in a home has changed due to remote work, it may be time to make a move. Let’s connect today to start prioritizing your home needs.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble

3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | Simplifying The Market

With home prices continuing to deliver double-digit increases, some are concerned we’re in a housing bubble like the one in 2006. However, a closer look at the market data indicates this is nothing like 2006 for three major reasons.

1. The housing market isn’t driven by risky mortgage loans.

Back in 2006, nearly everyone could qualify for a loan. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) from the Mortgage Bankers’ Association is an indicator of the availability of mortgage money. The higher the index, the easier it is to obtain a mortgage. The MCAI more than doubled from 2004 (378) to 2006 (869). Today, the index stands at 130. As an example of the difference between today and 2006, let’s look at the volume of mortgages that originated when a buyer had less than a 620 credit score.3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | Simplifying The Market Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, reiterates this point:

“There are marked differences in today’s run up in prices compared to 2005, which was a bubble fueled by risky loans and lenient underwriting. Today, loans with high-risk features are absent and mortgage underwriting is prudent.”

2. Homeowners aren’t using their homes as ATMs this time.

During the housing bubble, as prices skyrocketed, people were refinancing their homes and pulling out large sums of cash. As prices began to fall, that caused many to spiral into a negative equity situation (where their mortgage was higher than the value of the house).

Today, homeowners are letting their equity build. Tappable equity is the amount available for homeowners to access before hitting a maximum 80% combined loan-to-value ratio (thus still leaving them with at least 20% equity). In 2006, that number was $4.6 billion. Today, that number stands at over $8 billion.

Yet, the percentage of cash-out refinances (where the homeowner takes out at least 5% more than their original mortgage amount) is half of what it was in 2006.3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | Simplifying The Market

3. This time, it’s simply a matter of supply and demand.

FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) dominated the housing market leading up to the 2006 housing bubble and drove up buyer demand. Back then, housing supply more than kept up as many homeowners put their houses on the market, as evidenced by the over seven months’ supply of existing housing inventory available for sale in 2006. Today, that number is barely two months.

Builders also overbuilt during the bubble but pulled back significantly over the next decade. Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist, Economic & Housing Research at Freddie Mac, explains that pullback is the major factor in the lack of available inventory today:

“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes.”

Here’s a chart that quantifies Khater’s remarks:3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | Simplifying The Market Today, there are simply not enough homes to keep up with current demand.

Bottom Line

This market is nothing like the run-up to 2006. Bill McBride, the author of the prestigious Calculated Risk blog, predicted the last housing bubble and crash. This is what he has to say about today’s housing market:

“It’s not clear at all to me that things are going to slow down significantly in the near future. In 2005, I had a strong sense that the hot market would turn and that, when it turned, things would get very ugly. Today, I don’t have that sense at all, because all of the fundamentals are there. Demand will be high for a while because Millennials need houses. Prices will keep rising for a while because inventory is so low.”

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What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise

What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | Simplifying The Market

In today’s real estate market, mortgage interest rates are near record lows. If you’ve been in your current home for several years and haven’t refinanced lately, there’s a good chance you have a mortgage with an interest rate higher than today’s average. Here are some options you should consider if you want to take advantage of today’s current low rates before they rise.

Sell and Move Up (or Downsize)

Many of today’s homeowners are rethinking what they need in a home and redefining what their dream home means. For some, continued remote work is bringing about the need for additional space. For others, moving to a lower cost-of-living area or downsizing may be great options. If you’re considering either of these, there may not be a better time to move. Here’s why.

The chart below shows average mortgage rates by decade compared to where they are today:What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | Simplifying The Market Today’s rates are below 3%, but experts forecast rates to rise over the next few years.

If the interest rate on your current mortgage is higher than today’s average, take advantage of this opportunity by making a move and securing a lower rate. Lower rates mean you may be able to get more house for your money and still have a lower monthly mortgage payment than you might expect.

Waiting, however, might mean you miss out on this historic opportunity. Below is a chart showing how your monthly payment will change if you buy a home as mortgage rates increase:What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | Simplifying The Market

Breaking It All Down:

Using the chart above, let’s look at the breakdown of a $300,000 mortgage:

  • When mortgage rates rise, so does the monthly payment you can secure.
  • Even the smallest increase in rates can make a difference in your monthly mortgage payment.
  • As interest rates rise, you’ll need to look at a lower-priced home to try and keep the same target monthly payment, meaning you may end up with less home for your money.

No matter what, whether you’re looking to make a move up or downsize to a home that better suits your needs, now is the time. Even a small change in interest rates can have a big impact on your purchasing power.

Refinance

If making a move right now still doesn’t feel right for you, consider refinancing. With the current low mortgage rates, refinancing is a great option if you’re looking to lower your monthly payments and stay in your current home.

Bottom Line

Take advantage of today’s low rates before they begin to rise. Whether you’re thinking about moving up, downsizing, or refinancing, let’s connect today to discuss which option is best for you.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Experts Agree: Options Are Improving for Buyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Experts Agree: Options Are Improving for Buyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Experts Agree: Options Are Improving for Buyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Buyers hoping for more homes to choose from may be in luck as housing inventory begins to rise. Many experts agree – new sellers listing their homes is great news for buyers and the overall market.
  • Although the supply increases are modest, more homes means more options for buyers. A rise in inventory may also help slow the price gains we’ve seen recently and could be a sign of good things to come.
  • If you’re searching for a home, rising inventory is welcome news. Let’s connect today to discuss new listings in our area.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters