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There Won’t Be a Wave of Foreclosures in the Housing Market

There Won’t Be a Wave of Foreclosures in the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

When mortgage forbearance plans were first announced and the pandemic surged through the country in early 2020, many homeowners were allowed to pause their mortgage payments. Some analysts were concerned that once the forbearance program ended, the housing market would experience a wave of foreclosures like what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago.

Here’s a look at why that isn’t the case.

1. There Are Fewer Homeowners in Trouble This Time

After the last housing crash, over nine million households lost their homes to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they gave it back to the bank. Many believed millions of homeowners would face the same fate again this time.

However, today’s data shows that most homeowners exited their forbearance plan either fully caught up on payments or with a plan from the bank that restructured their loan in a way that allowed them to start making payments again. The latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) studies how people exited the forbearance program from June 2020 to November 2021.

Here are those findings:

38.6% left the program paid in full
  • 19.9% made their monthly payments during the forbearance period
  • 11.8% made up all past-due payments
  • 6.9% paid off the loan in full
44% negotiated work-out repayment plans
  • 29.1% received a loan deferral
  • 14.1% received a loan modification
  • 0.8% arranged a different repayment plan
0.6% sold as a short sale or did a deed-in-lieu
16.8% left the program still in trouble and without a loss mitigation plan in place

2. Those Left in the Program Can Still Negotiate a Repayment Plan

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at 890,000. Those who remain in forbearance still have the chance to work out a suitable plan with the servicing company that represents their lender. And the servicing companies are under pressure to do just that by both federal and state agencies.

Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President at RealtyTrac, says in a recent tweet:

“The [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] and state [Attorneys General] look like they’re adopting a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to mortgage servicing enforcement. Likely that this will limit #foreclosure activity for a good part of 2022, while servicers explore all possible loss [mitigation] options.”

For more information, read the warning issued by the Attorney General of New York State.

3. Most Homeowners Have More Than Enough Equity To Sell Their Homes

For those who can’t negotiate a solution and the 16.8% who left the forbearance program without a work-out, many will have enough equity to sell their homes and leave the closing with cash instead of facing foreclosures.

Due to rapidly rising home prices over the last two years, the average homeowner has gained record amounts of equity in their home. As Frank Martell, President & CEO of CoreLogic, explains:

“Not only have equity gains helped homeowners more seamlessly transition out of forbearance and avoid a distressed sale, but they’ve also enabled many to continue building their wealth.”

4. There Have Been Far Fewer Foreclosures Over the Last Two Years

One of the seldom-reported benefits of the forbearance program was that it allowed households experiencing financial difficulties prior to the pandemic to enter the program. It gave those homeowners an extra two years to get their finances in order and work out a plan with their lender. That prevented over 400,000 foreclosures that normally would have come to the market had the new forbearance program not been available. Otherwise, the real estate market would have had to absorb those foreclosures. Here’s a graph depicting this data:

There Won’t Be a Wave of Foreclosures in the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

5. The Current Market Can Easily Absorb Over a Million New Listings

When foreclosures hit the market in 2008, they added to the oversupply of houses that were already for sale. That resulted in over a nine-month supply of listings, and anything over a six-month supply can cause prices to depreciate.

It’s exactly the opposite today. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reveals:

“Total housing inventory at the end of November amounted to 1.11 million units, down 9.8% from October and down 13.3% from one year ago (1.28 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.1-month supply at the current sales pace, a decline from both the prior month and from one year ago.”

A balanced market would have approximately a six-month supply of inventory. At 2.1 months, the market is severely understocked. Even if one million homes enter the market, there still won’t be enough inventory to meet the current demand.

Bottom Line

The end of the forbearance plan will not cause any upheaval in the housing market. Sharga puts it best:

“The fact that foreclosure starts declined despite hundreds of thousands of borrowers exiting the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program over the last few months is very encouraging. It suggests that the ‘forbearance equals foreclosure’ narrative was incorrect. . . .”

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Why Waiting To Sell Your House Could Cost You a Small Fortune

Why Waiting To Sell Your House Could Cost You a Small Fortune | Simplifying The Market

Many homeowners who plan to sell in 2022 may think the wise thing to do is to wait for the spring buying market since historically about 40 percent of home sales occur between April and July. However, this year’s expected to be much different than the norm. Here are five reasons to list your house now rather than waiting until the spring.

1. Buyers Are Looking Right Now, and They’re Ready To Purchase

The ShowingTime Showing Index reports data from more than six million property showings scheduled across the country each month. In other words, it’s a gauge of how many buyers are out looking at homes at the current time.

The latest index, which covers November showings, reveals that buyers are still very active in the market. Comparing this November’s numbers to previous years, this graph shows that the index is higher than last year and much higher than the three years prior to the pandemic. Clearly, there’s an influx of buyers searching for your home.

Why Waiting To Sell Your House Could Cost You a Small Fortune | Simplifying The Market

Also, at this time of year, only those purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the market. You and your loved ones won’t be inconvenienced by casual searchers. Freddie Mac addresses this in a recent blog:

“The buyers who are willing to house hunt in a winter market, when there are fewer options, are typically more serious. Plus, year-end bonuses and overtime payouts give people more purchasing power.”

And that theory is proving to be true right now based on the number of buyers who have put a home under contract to purchase. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) publishes a monthly Pending Home Sales Index which measures housing contract activity. It’s based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops. The latest index shows:

“…housing demand continues to be high. . . . Homes placed on the market for sale go from ‘listed status’ to ‘under contract’ in approximately 18 days.”

Comparing the index to previous Novembers, while it’s slightly below November 2020 (when sales were pushed to later in the year because of the pandemic), it’s well above the previous three years.

Why Waiting To Sell Your House Could Cost You a Small Fortune | Simplifying The Market

The takeaway for you: There are purchasers in the market, and they’re ready and willing to buy.

2. Other Sellers Plan To List Earlier This Year

The law of supply and demand tells us that if you want the best price possible and to negotiate your ideal contract terms, put your house on the market when there’s strong demand and less competition.

A recent study by realtor.com reveals that, unlike in previous years, sellers plan to list their homes this winter instead of waiting until spring or summer. The study shows that 65% of sellers who plan to sell in 2022 have either already listed their home (19%) or are planning to put it on the market this winter.

Again, if you’re looking for the best price and the ability to best negotiate the other terms of the sale of your house, listing before this competition hits the market makes sense.

3. Newly Constructed Homes Will Be Your Competition in the Spring

In 2020, there were over 979,000 new single-family housing units authorized by building permits. Many of those homes have yet to be built because of labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks brought on by the pandemic. They will, however, be completed in 2022. That will create additional competition when you sell your house. Beating these newly constructed homes to the market is something you should consider to ensure your house gets as much attention from interested buyers as possible.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time To Move-Up

If you’re moving into a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by approximately 5% over the next 12 months. That means it will cost you more (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock in your 30-year housing expense with a mortgage rate in the low 3’s right now. If you’re thinking of selling in 2022, you may want to do it now instead of waiting, as mortgage rates are forecast to rise throughout the year.

5. It May Be Time for You To Make a Change

Consider why you’re thinking of selling in the first place and determine whether it’s worth waiting. Is waiting more important than being closer to your loved ones now? Is waiting more important than your health? Is waiting more important than having the space you truly need?

Only you know the answers to those questions. Take time to think about your goals and priorities as we move into 2022 and consider what’s most important to act on now.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been debating whether or not to sell your house and are curious about market conditions in your area, let’s connect so you have expert advice on the best time to put your house on the market.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2022

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2022 | Simplifying The Market

Are you one of the many renters thinking about where you’ll live the next time your lease is up? Before you decide whether to look for a new house or another apartment, it’s important to understand the true costs of renting in 2022.

As a renter, you should know rents have been rising since 1988 (see graph below):

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2022 | Simplifying The Market

In 2021, rents grew dramatically. According to ApartmentList.com, since January 2021:

. . . the national median rent has increased by a staggering 17.8 percent. To put that in context, rent growth from January to November averaged just 2.6 percent in the pre-pandemic years from 2017-2019.”

That increase in 2021 was far greater than the typical rent increases we’ve seen in recent years. In other words – rents are rising fast. And the 2022 National Housing Forecast from realtor.com projects prices for vacant units will continue to increase this year:

“In 2022, we expect this trend will continue and fuel rent growth. At a national level, we forecast rent growth of 7.1% in the next 12 months, somewhat ahead of home price growth . . .”

That means, if you’re planning to move into a different rental this year, you’ll likely pay far more than you have in years past.

Homeownership Provides an Alternative to Rising Rents

If you’re a renter facing rising rental costs, you might wonder what alternatives you have. If so, consider homeownership. One of the many benefits of homeownership is it provides a stable monthly cost you can lock in for the duration of your loan.

As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“. . . fast-rising rents and increasing consumer prices, may have some prospective buyers seeking the protection of a fixed, consistent mortgage payment.”

If you’re planning to make a move this year, locking in your monthly housing costs for 15-30 years can be a major benefit. You’ll avoid wondering if you’ll need to adjust your budget to account for annual increases.

Homeowners also enjoy the added benefit of home equity, which has grown substantially right now. In fact, the latest Homeowner Equity Insight report from CoreLogic shows the average homeowner gained $56,700 in equity over the last 12 months. As a renter, your rent payment only covers the cost of your dwelling. When you pay your mortgage, you grow your wealth through the forced savings that is your home equity.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of renting this year, it’s important to keep in mind the true costs you’ll face. Let’s connect so you can see how you can begin your journey to homeownership today.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment?

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment? | Simplifying The Market

As you set out on your homebuying journey, you likely have a plan in place, and you’re working on saving for your purchase. But do you know how much you actually need for your down payment?

If you think you have to put 20% down, you may have set your goal based on a common misconception. Freddie Mac says:

“The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. It may sound surprising, but today, that number is only 13%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose median down payment is only 7% (see graph below):

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment? | Simplifying The Market

What Does This Mean for You?

While a down payment of 20% or more does have benefits, the typical buyer is putting far less down. That’s good news for you because it means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.

If you’re interested in learning more about low down payment options, there are several places to go. There are programs for qualified buyers with down payments as low as 3.5%. There are also options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, you need to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like downpaymentresource.com. Be sure to also work with a real estate advisor from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Remember: a 20% down payment isn’t always required. If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to start the conversation and explore your down payment options.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Why Selling Your House with a Real Estate Professional Is Essential

Why Selling Your House with a Real Estate Professional Is Essential | Simplifying The Market

Selling your house is no simple task. And when you sell on your own – known as a FSBO (or For Sale by Owner) – you’re responsible for handling some of the more difficult aspects of the process without the expert guidance you need.

The 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys homeowners who recently sold their house on their own and asks what difficulties they faced. Those sellers say some of the biggest headaches are prepping their house for sale, pricing it right, and handling the required paperwork.

Working with an agent is the best way to ensure you have an expert on your side to guide you at every turn. Agents have the skills and knowledge that are essential to navigating each step with ease, efficiency, and accuracy. Here are just a few things a real estate agent will do to make sure you get the most out of your sale.

1. Make the Best First Impression

Selling your house requires a significant amount of time and effort. Doing it right takes expertise and an understanding of today’s buyers. Your agent knows the answers to common questions, such as:

  • Do I need to take down my personal art?
  • How much landscaping does my house need?
  • What colors should I paint my walls?

Your time and money are important, and you don’t want to waste either one focusing on the wrong things. A real estate advisor relies on their experience to answer these questions and more, allowing you to make the right investments to prep your house before you list.

2. Maximize Your Buyer Pool – and Your Sale

Today, the average home is getting 3.6 offers per sale according to recent data from NAR. That’s great news if you’re planning to sell, since the more offers you receive, the more likely you are to sell your house in a bidding war, and for a higher price.

Real estate agents have an assortment of tools at their disposal, like social media followers and agency resources, that will ensure your house is viewed by the most buyers. Without access to these tools and your agent’s marketing expertise, your buyer pool – and your home’s selling potential – is limited.

3. Understand the Documentation, Including the Fine Print

Today, when a house is sold, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory, meaning the number of legal documents to juggle is growing. It’s hard to understand all the requirements and fine print (especially if you’re not an expert). That’s why your advisor is an invaluable guide.

Your agent knows exactly what needs to happen, what all the paperwork means, and can work through it efficiently. They’ll help you review the documentation and avoid any costly missteps that could happen if you tackle it on your own.

4. Act as Your Expert Negotiator

If you sell without an agent, you’ll also be solely responsible for all negotiations. That means you have to coordinate with:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house
  • The appraiser, who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender

Instead of going toe-to-toe with all these parties alone, lean on an expert. Your agent relies on experience and training to make the right moves throughout the negotiation. They’ll know what levers to pull, how to address each individual concern, and when you may want to get a second opinion. When you sell your house yourself, you’ll need to be prepared to have these conversations on your own.

5. Price It Right

Real estate professionals have the expertise to price your house accurately and competitively. To do so, they compare your house to recently sold homes in your area and factor in the current condition of your house. These factors are key to making sure your house is priced to move quickly and get you the maximum return on your investment.

When you sell as a FSBO, you’re operating without this advantage. That could cost you in the long run if you price your house too high or too low.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot that goes into selling your house, and it takes time, effort, and expertise to truly maximize your sale. Instead of tackling it alone, let’s connect to make sure you have an expert on your side.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market

Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

As we move into 2022, both buyers and sellers are wondering, what’s next? Will there be more homes available to buy? Will prices keep climbing? How high will mortgage rates go? For the answer to those questions and more, we turn to the experts. Here’s a look at what they say we can expect in 2022.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist, First American:

“Consensus forecasts put rates at about 3.7% by the end of next year. So, that’s still historically low, but certainly higher than they are today.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

Affordability will increasingly be a challenge as interest rates and prices rise, but remote work may expand search areas and enable younger buyers to find their first homes sooner than they might have otherwise. And with more than 45 million millennials within the prime first-time buying ages of 26-35 heading into 2022, we expect the market to remain competitive.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“With more housing inventory to hit the market, the intense multiple offers will start to ease. Home prices will continue to rise but at a slower pace.”

George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research, realtor.com:

“We also expect a growing number of homeowners to bring properties to market, taking some pressure off high prices and offering buyers more options.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

Strong demographic demand will continue to act as the wind in the housing market’s sails.”

What Does This Mean for Buyers?

Hope is on the horizon for 2022. You should see your options grow as more homes are listed and some of the peak intensity of buyer competition starts to ease. Just remember, rising rates and prices are a great motivator for you to find the home of your dreams sooner rather than later so you can buy while today’s affordability is still in your favor.

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

Make no mistake – this sellers’ market will remain in 2022 as home prices are projected to continue climbing, just at a more moderate pace. Selling your house while buyer demand is so high will truly put you in the driver’s seat. But don’t wait too long. With more listings projected to become available, your ideal window of opportunity to stand out from the crowd won’t last forever. Work with an agent who knows your local market and current inventory conditions to ensure you have the support you need to make an educated and informed decision about selling in the coming year.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, 2022 may be your year. Let’s connect to discuss your goals and the unique opportunities you have in today’s housing market.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer on a Home

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer on a Home | Simplifying The Market

As a buyer in a sellers’ market, sometimes it can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. When you’re ready to make an offer on a home, remember these five easy tips to help you rise above the competition.

1. Know Your Budget

Knowing your budget and what you can afford is critical to your success as a homebuyer. The best way to understand your numbers is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a loan. As Freddie Mac puts it:

“This pre-approval allows you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer.”

Showing sellers you’re serious can give you a competitive edge, and it helps you act quickly when you’ve found your perfect home.

2. Be Ready To Move Fast

Homes are selling quickly in today’s competitive housing market. According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Eighty-three percent of homes sold in November 2021 were on the market for less than a month.”

When houses are selling this fast, staying on top of the market and moving quickly are key. Your agent can help you put together and submit your best offer as soon as you find the home you want to buy.

3. Lean on a Real Estate Professional

No matter what the housing market looks like, rely on a trusted real estate advisor. As Freddie Mac also notes:

“The success of your homebuying journey largely depends on the company you keep. . . . Be sure to select experienced, trusted professionals who will help you make informed decisions and avoid any pitfalls.”

Agents are experts in the local real estate market. They have insight into what’s worked for other buyers in your area and what sellers may be looking for in an offer. It may seem simple, but catering to what a seller needs can help your offer stand out.

4. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer

According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from NAR, 40% of offers today are above the list price. In such a competitive market, emotions and prices can run high. Having an agent to help you submit a strong, yet fair offer is critical in these situations. Your agent can help you understand the market value of the home and recent sales trends in the area.

5. Be a Flexible Negotiator

When putting together an offer, your trusted real estate advisor will help you consider which levers you can pull, including contract contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Of course, there are certain contingencies you don’t want to give up. Freddie Mac explains:

“Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold ‘as-is’, which means the seller won’t pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can’t afford to fix.”

Bottom Line

Today’s competitive landscape makes it more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home. Let’s connect to make sure you rise to the top along the way.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters

Key Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

Key Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage | Simplifying The Market

Once you’ve found your dream home and applied for a mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. It’s exciting to start thinking about moving in and decorating your new place, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any major life changes, be sure to consult your lender – someone who’s qualified to explain how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.

Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t do after applying for a mortgage. They’re all important to know – or simply just good reminders – for the process.

1. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts Before Speaking with Your Bank or Lender.

Lenders need to source your money, and cash isn’t easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

2. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your Home.

New debt comes with new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios. Since higher ratios make for riskier loans, qualified borrowers may end up no longer qualifying for their mortgage.

3. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone.

When you co-sign, you’re obligated. With that obligation comes higher debt-to-income ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

4. Don’t Change Bank Accounts.

Remember, lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is much easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.

5. Don’t Apply for New Credit.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be impacted. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and possibly even your eligibility for approval.

6. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts.

Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. This isn’t true. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants of your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. The best plan is to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.

Content previously posted on Keeping Current Matters