Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

June 23, 2024

Do Elections Impact the Housing Market?




The 2024 Presidential election is just months away. As someone who’s thinking about potentially buying or selling a home, you’re probably curious about what effect, if any, elections have on the housing market.

It’s a great question because buying or selling a home is a major decision, and it’s natural to wonder how such a major event might impact your plans.

Historically, Presidential elections have only had a small, temporary impact on the housing market. Here’s the latest on exactly what’s happened to home sales, prices, and mortgage rates throughout those time periods.

Home Sales

During the month of November, in years when the Presidential election takes place, there’s typically a slight slowdown in home sales. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zondaexplains:

“Usually, home sales are unchanged compared to a non-election year with the exception being November. In an election year, November is slower than normal.

This is mostly because some people feel uncertain and hesitant about making big decisions during such a pivotal time. However, it’s important to know this slowdown is temporary. Historically, home sales bounce back in December and continue to rise the following year.

In fact, data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows after nine of the last 11 Presidential elections, home sales went up the next year (see graph below): No Caption Received

 

The graph shows annual home sales going back to 1978. Each year with a Presidential election is noted in blue. The year immediately after each election is green if existing home sales rose that year. The two orange bars represent the only years when home sales decreased after an election.

Home Prices

What about home prices? Do they drop during election years? Not typically. As residential appraiser and housing analyst Ryan Lundquist puts it:

“An election year doesn’t alter the price trend that is already happening in the market.”

Home prices are pretty resilient. They generally rise year-over-year, regardless of elections. The latest data from NAR shows after seven of the last eight Presidential elections, home prices increased the following year (see graph below): No Caption Received

 

Just like the previous graph, this shows election years in blue. The only year when prices declined after an election is in orange. That was during the housing market crash, which was far from a typical year. Today’s market is different than it was back then.

All the green bars represent when prices rose the following year. So, if you're worried about your home losing value because of an election, you can rest easy knowing prices rise after most Presidential elections.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are important because they affect how much your monthly payment will be when you buy a home. Looking at the last 11 Presidential election years, data from Freddie Mac shows mortgage rates decreased from July to November in eight of them (see chart below): No Caption Received

 

Most forecasts expect mortgage rates to ease slightly throughout the remainder of the year. If they’re right, this year will follow the trend of declining rates leading up to most previous elections. And if you’re looking to buy a home in the coming months, this could be good news, as lower rates could mean a lower monthly payment.

What This Means for You

So, what’s the big takeaway? While Presidential elections do have some impact on the housing market, the effects are usually small and temporary. As Lisa Sturtevant, Chief Economist at Bright MLS, says:

“Historically, the housing market doesn’t tend to look very different in presidential election years compared to other years.”

For most buyers and sellers, elections don’t have a major impact on their plans.

Bottom Line

While it’s natural to feel a bit uncertain during an election year, history shows the housing market remains strong and resilient. For help navigating the market, election year or not, let’s connect.

Posted in Buyer
June 20, 2024

Why a Vacation Home Is the Ultimate Summer Upgrade

 




Summer is officially here and that means it’s the perfect time to start planning where you want to vacation and unwind this season. If you’re excited about getting away and having some fun in the sun, it might make sense to consider if owning your own vacation home is right for you.

An Ameriprise Financial survey sheds light on why people buy a second, or vacation, home (see below): No Caption Received

 

  • Vacation destination or a place to get away from the stresses of everyday life (81%) – Having a second home to use as a vacation spot can be a special place where you go to relax and take a break from your daily routines and stressors. It also means you won’t have to worry about finding somewhere to stay when you go there.
  • Better weather (49%) – Buying in a place where there may be nicer weather can be a great escape, especially if it’s cold or rainy where you usually live. It lets you enjoy sunny days and warm temperatures, even when it’s not so nice back home.
  • Rental income (41%) – You can rent it out to other people when you’re not using it, which can help you make some extra money.
  • Primary residence in the future (33%) – You can eventually move into the home full-time during retirement. That means you can enjoy vacations there now and have a getaway ready for your future.
  • Having a venue for gatherings with family and friends (25%) – It would be a special spot where you can have parties, regular family trips, and create fun memories.

Ways To Buy Your Vacation Home

And you don’t have to be wealthy to buy a vacation home. Bankrate shares two tips for how to make this dream more achievable for anyone who’s interested:

  • Buy with loved ones or friends: If you’re okay with sharing the vacation home, you can go in on the purchase price together and pool your resources to make it more affordable.
  • Put a savings plan in place: This will require patience and persistence but consider adding a vacation home savings plan to your budget and contributing to it monthly.

Finding Your Dream Spot with a Little Help from an Agent

If the idea of basking in the sun at your very own vacation home sounds appealing, you might want to start looking now. Summer's when everyone's trying to buy their slice of paradise, so it’s best to start early.

Your first move is to team up with a real estate agent. They know all the ins and outs of the area you want to be in, and which homes you should look at. Plus, they can give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about having a second home and how it can benefit you. The same article from Bankrate says:

Buying real estate in a new area — or even one you’ve vacationed in for many years — requires expert guidance. That makes it a good idea to work with an experienced local lender who specializes in loans for vacation homes and a local real estate professional. Local lenders and Realtors will understand the required rules and specifics for the area you are buying, and a local Realtor will know what properties are available.”

Bottom Line

If the idea of owning your own vacation home appeals to you, let’s chat.

Posted in Buyer
June 19, 2024

What You Need To Know About Today’s Down Payment Programs




There's no denying it's gotten more challenging to buy a home, especially with today's mortgage rates and home price appreciation. And that may be one of the big reasons you’re eager to look into grants and assistance programs to see if there’s anything you qualify for that can help. But unfortunately, many homebuyers feel like they don’t know where to start. 

A recent Bank of America Institute study asked prospective buyers where they lack confidence in the process and need more information. And this is what topped the list:

53% said they need help understanding homebuying grant programs.

So, here’s some information that can help you close that gap.

What Is Down Payment Assistance?

As the Mortgage Reports explains:

“Down payment assistance (DPA) programs offer loans and grants that can cover part or all of a home buyer’s down payment and closing costs. More than 2,000 of these programs are available nationwide. . . DPA programs vary by location, but many home buyers could be in line for thousands of dollars in down payment assistance if they qualify.”

And here’s some more good news. On top of all of these programs, you probably don’t need to save as much for your down payment as you think. Contrary to what you may have heard, typically you don’t have to put 20% down unless it’s specified by your loan type or lender. So, you likely don’t need to save as much upfront, and there are programs designed to make your down payment more achievable. Sounds like a win-win.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

It’s also worth mentioning, that it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for many of these programs. That means whether you’re looking to buy your first house or your fifth, there could be an option for you. As Down Payment Resource notes:

You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 39% of all [homeownership] programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

Additional Down Payment Resources That Can Help

Here are a few of the down payment assistance programs that are helping many buyers achieve their dream of homeownership, even now:

  • Teacher Next Door is designed to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and Veterans reach their down payment goals.
  • Fannie Mae provides down payment assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers living in majority-Latino communities.
  • Freddie Mac also has options designed specifically for homebuyers with modest credit scores and limited funds for a down payment.
  • The 3By30 program lays out actionable strategies to add 3 million new Black homeowners by 2030. These programs offer valuable resources for potential buyers, making it easier to secure down payments and realize their dream of homeownership.
  • For Native Americans, Down Payment Resource highlights 42 U.S. homebuyer assistance programs across 14 states that ease the path to homeownership by providing support with down payments and other associated costs.

If you want more information on any of these, the best place to start is by contacting a trusted real estate professional.

They’ll be able to share more details about what may be available, including any other programs designed to serve specific professions or communities. And even if you don’t qualify for these types of programs, they can help see if there are any other federal, state, and local options available you should look into. 

Bottom Line

Affordability is still a challenge, so if you’re looking to buy, you’re going to want to make sure you’re taking advantage of any and all resources available.

The best way to find out what’s out there is to connect with a team of real estate professionals, including a trusted lender and a local agent. 

Posted in Buyer
June 4, 2024

What To Expect if You Buy or Sell a Home This June




June is a busy month in the housing market because a lot of people buy and sell this time of year. So, if you’ve got a move on your mind and you’re looking to make it happen this month, here’s a snapshot of what you need to know to make sure you’re ready.

If You’re Buying This June

A lot of homebuyers with children like to move after one school year ends and before the next one begins. That’s one reason why late spring into summer is a popular time for homes to change hands. And whether that’s a motivator for you or not, it’s important to realize more buyers are going to be looking right now – and that means you’ll want to be ready for a bit more competition. But there is a silver lining to a move this time of year. This is also when more sellers will list – so you should find you have more options. As an article from Bankrate says:

Late spring and early summer are the busiest and most competitive time of year for the real estate market. There’s usually more inventory listed for sale than other times of year . . . This is a double-edged sword for a buyer, as you will be met with more opportunities but [also] much more competition.”

During this busy season, it’s extra important to work with a trusted real estate agent. Your agent will help you stay on top of the latest listings, share expertise on how to make a strong offer in a competitive market, and give you insight into things like what the home is actually worth so you can make an informed decision when you buy. As Forbes says:

Approaching the market confidently, armed with good information and grounded expectations will take you far. Don't let the hustle of the market convince you to buy something that’s not in your budget, or not right for your lifestyle.”

If You’re Selling This June

Because there are more buyers this time of year, you’re in a great spot as a seller. Many of those buyers are highly motivated to make their move happen before the next school year kicks off – so they’ll likely put in strong offers to try to make that possible. That means, if your house shows well and is listed at market value, you could see your house sell faster or for a higher price. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Warmer weather and the end of the school year encourage more people to buy and sell, respectively. Buyers are looking to move and settle before the new school year begins, contributing to increased competition and, consequently, higher prices.”

You want to be sure you’ve got a great agent on your side to help you with the contingencies on those offers and any negotiations that take place so you can pick the best offer. Make sure you go over closing dates with your agent. Buyers trying to time their move with the school year may need to delay a bit or move faster. This can depend on the school calendar where you live. As U.S. News Real Estate explains:

“ . . if your house goes under contract in early summer, the buyer may ask for a delay in closing or move-in until the school year finishes or their current home has sold. Alternatively, a buyer later in summer may be looking to close quickly and move in under a month. Remain flexible to keep the deal running smoothly, and your buyer may be willing to throw in concessions, like covering some of your closing costs or overlooking the old roof.”

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to make a move this June, let’s chat so you know what to expect. We’ll come up with a plan that factors in current market conditions, but still works for you.

Posted in Buyer
June 3, 2024

More Than a House: The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership




With all the headlines and talk about housing affordability, it can be tempting to get lost in the financial side of buying a home. That’s only natural as you think about the dollars and cents of it all.

And while you ultimately need to be able to afford a home you buy, don’t lose sight of why homeownership was so important to you in the first place. That’s because buying a home is so much more than just a financial transaction. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

“The benefits of purchasing and owning your place of residence are both financial and emotional – pride in homeownership and the feeling of security are huge intangible benefits.”

Here’s a look at just a few of those more emotional or lifestyle perks, to help anchor you to why homeownership is one of your goals.

A Sense of Satisfaction

Owning a home is often associated with better mental health and well-being. That’s probably because buying a home is a big milestone. And the sense of satisfaction and pride that comes with achieving that goal just feels good. A recent article from the Mortgage Reports says:

“By and large, homeownership brings more satisfaction than renting. . . Surveyees scored the overall happiness level of homeowners at 88% compared to 67% for renters.”

More Stability for Your Family

Another thing that may make homeowners feel more satisfied is that they’re finally able to put down roots. Think about it. If you’re used to moving each time your lease renews and your rent climbs, staying put for a while would be nice not just for you, but for any loved ones that live with you.

A home can provide more predictability and the chance to make long-term friends. That should reduce everyone’s stress too. As NAR explains:

“Families also benefit from homeownership, with studies proving that parents are able to spend less time in a stressed state, therefore spending more time with their children. The ability for parents to feel stable has a huge impact on children’s behavioral issues, educational success, and future economic success.”

A Stronger Feeling of Community

And if you’re also looking for a sense of belonging for yourself, homeownership can help with that too. As FinHabits says:

“Homeowners tend to be more involved in their local communities, leading to a stronger sense of belonging . . .”

It makes sense. Your home connects you to your neighborhood and, by extension, your broader community. That’s because owning a home gives you a stake in that community’s future. So, becoming more involved and wanting to do what you can to help improve the area while making long-term relationships with neighbors is only natural.

The Ability To Make the Space Your Own

And don’t forget, your home is a place that’s all yours. Unless you’ve got specific homeowner’s association requirements, you’re free to customize it however you see fit.

So, if renting has been cramping your style, it’s time to express yourself and jump on the latest trends (if you want to). Whether that’s small home improvements or full-on renovations, your house can be exactly what you want and need it to be. And as your tastes and lifestyle change, so can your home. Picture coming home each day to a place that feels like you. That’s a feeling like no other. 

Bottom Line

If you want to enjoy a sense of accomplishment and pride in where you’re living, let’s have a conversation to go over what you need to do now to make this future happen for you.

Posted in Buyer
May 23, 2024

Questions You May Have About Selling Your House

 




There’s no denying mortgage rates are having a big impact on today’s housing market. And that may leave you with some questions about whether it still makes sense to sell your house and make a move.

Here are three of the top questions you may be asking – and the data that helps answer them.

1. Should I Wait To Sell?

If you’re thinking about waiting to sell until after mortgage rates come down, here’s what you need to know. So are a ton of other people.

And while mortgage rates are still forecasted to come down later this year, if you wait for that to happen, you may be dealing with a lot more competition as other buyers and sellers jump back in too. As Bright MLS says:

“Even a modest drop in rates will bring both more buyers and more sellers into the market.”

That means if you wait it out, you’ll have to deal with things like prices rising faster and more multiple-offer scenarios when you buy your next home.

2. Are Buyers Still Out There?

But that doesn’t mean no one is moving right now. While some people are holding off, there are still plenty of buyers active today. And here’s the data to prove it.

The ShowingTime Showing Index is a measure of how frequently buyers are touring homes. The graph below uses that index to show buyer activity for March (the latest data available) over the past seven years:No Caption Received

 

You can see demand has dipped some since the ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). That’s in response to a lot of market factors, like higher mortgage rates, rising prices, and limited inventory. But, to really understand today’s demand, you have to compare where we are now with the last normal years in the market (2018-2019) – not the abnormal ‘unicorn’ years. 

When you focus on just the blue bars, you can get an idea of how 2024 stacks up. And that gives you a whole new perspective.

Nationally, demand is still high compared to the last normal years in the housing market (2018-2019). And that means there’s still a market for your house to sell.

3. Can I Afford To Buy My Next Home?

And if you’re worried about how you’ll afford your next move with today’s rates and prices, consider this: you probably have more equity in your current home than you realize.

Homeowners have gained record amounts of equity over the past few years. And that equity can make a big difference when you buy your next home. You may even have enough to be an all-cash buyer and avoid taking out a mortgage altogether. As Jessica Lautz, Deputy Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“ . . . those who have earned housing equity through home price appreciation are the current winners in today's housing market. One-third of recent home buyers did not finance their home purchase last month—the highest share in a decade. For these buyers, interest rates may be less influential in their purchase decisions.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve had these three questions on your mind and they’ve been holding you back from selling, hopefully, it helps to have this information now. A recent survey from Realtor.com shows more than 85% of potential sellers have been considering selling for over a year. That means there are a number of sellers like you who are on the fence.

But that same survey also talked to sellers who recently decided to take the plunge and list. And 79% of those recent sellers wish they’d sold sooner.

If you want to talk more about any of these questions or need more information, let’s connect.

Posted in Seller
May 22, 2024

How Many Homes Are Investors Actually Buying?




Are big investors really buying up all the homes today?

If you’re trying to find a house to buy, this may be something you’re wondering about. Maybe you’ve read about it or seen reels on social media saying investors buying all the homes is making it even harder to find what the average buyer is looking for. But spoiler alert – there’s a lot of misinformation out there. To clear things up, here's the scoop on what's really happening. A lot of the big investor activity is actually in the rearview mirror already.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) explains:

“Investors of all sizes spent billions of dollars buying homes during the pandemic. At the 2022 peak, they bought more than one in every four single-family homes sold, though more recently their activity has slowed as interest rates rose and supply became tighter.”

The key here is investor activity has slowed significantly, and even during the peak of investor buying, 3 out of every 4 single-family homes purchased were by regular, everyday buyers – not investors. And of the investors who bought over the past few years, most weren’t the big investors you may be hearing about. The vast majority were small mom-and-pop investors – people like your neighbors who own only a couple of homes, maybe even just their main residence and a vacation home.

But let’s focus on the giant, mega-investor firms since that's what is being talked about so frequently on social media right now. Mega investors are those who own 1,000+ properties. You may be surprised to see that, according to the Wall Street Journal, they don’t buy all that many homes (see graph below):

No Caption Received

 

This graph tells us two things. First, institutional investors were never buying a large percentage of available homes. During the peak in 2022, they bought about 2% of available single-family homes. Second, that percentage has gotten even smaller recently (so small the number rounds down to 0%).

In an effort to understand why that percentage is trending down, private lender RCN Capital asked investors about the challenges they’re facing. Here’s what Jeffrey Tesch, CEO of RCN Capital, found out:

“Investors are already facing many challenges in today’s housing market – rising prices, limited inventory, and higher financing costs.”

Understanding these challenges is important because they show big, mega investors aren’t taking over the housing market.

So, don't fall for everything you hear. They aren't snatching up all the homes and making it impossible for regular people to buy

Bottom Line

Big investors aren’t buying all the homes out there. If you've got questions about what you're hearing about the housing market, let's chat. I can help you understand what's really going on.

Posted in Market Updates
May 20, 2024

What’s Next for Home Prices and Mortgage Rates?

 




If you’re thinking of making a move this year, there are two housing market factors that are probably on your mind: home prices and mortgage rates. You’re wondering what’s going to happen next. And if it’s worth it to move now, or better to wait it out.

The only thing you can really do is make the best decision you can based on the latest information available. So, here’s what experts are saying about both prices and rates.

1. What’s Next for Home Prices?

One reliable place you can turn to for information on home price forecasts is the Home Price Expectations Survey from Fannie Mae – a survey of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists.

According to the most recent release, experts are projecting home prices will continue to rise at least through 2028 (see the graph below):

No Caption Received

 

While the percent of appreciation varies year-to-year, this survey says we’ll see prices rise (not fall) for at least the next 5 years, and at a much more normal pace.

What does that mean for your move? If you buy now, your home will likely grow in value and you should gain equity in the years ahead. But, based on these forecasts, if you wait and prices continue to climb, the price of a home will only be higher later on. 

2. When Will Mortgage Rates Come Down?

This is the million-dollar question in the industry. And there’s no easy way to answer it. That’s because there are a number of factors that are contributing to the volatile mortgage rate environment we’re in. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“Every month brings a new set of inflation and labor data that can influence the direction of mortgage rates. Ongoing inflation deceleration, a slowing economy and even geopolitical uncertainty can contribute to lower mortgage rates. On the other hand, data that signals upside risk to inflation may result in higher rates.”

What happens next will depend on where each of those factors goes from here. Experts are optimistic rates should still come down later this year, but acknowledge changing economic indicators will continue to have an impact. As a CNET article says:

“Though mortgage rates could still go down later in the year, housing market predictions change regularly in response to economic data, geopolitical events and more.”

So, if you’re ready, willing, and able to afford a home right now, partner with a trusted real estate advisor to weigh your options and decide what’s right for you. 

Bottom Line

Let’s connect to make sure you have the latest information available on home prices and mortgage rate expectations. Together we’ll go over what the experts are saying so you can make an informed decision on your move.

Posted in Buyer
May 17, 2024

Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

 




No Caption Received

Some Highlights

  • While renting may be less expensive in some areas right now, there are two big benefits homeownership provides that renting can’t. ​
  • Owning a home means you get to say goodbye to rising rents and hello to stability. It also gives you the chance to gain equity as home values rise over time.
  • If you’re ready to learn more about the perks of owning a home, let’s chat. 
Posted in Buyer
May 15, 2024

Thinking of Selling? You Want an Agent with These Skills




Selling your house is a big decision. Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ve probably ever made, and it’s a place where you’ve created countless memories. That combo means there’s going to be a lot of emotions involved. You want someone who understands your perspective, knows what it feels like, and is an expert at helping homeowners just like you navigate the process of selling a home.

That’s where a good listing agent, also known as a seller's agent, comes in. Here are just a few skills you’ll want your agent to have.

The Ability To Turn Something Complex into Something Simple

Some agents are going to use big, fancy real estate terms to try and impress you. But you shouldn’t have to know all the industry jargon in order to understand what they’re saying. If anything, it's an agent’s job to keep it simple, so you don’t get overwhelmed or confused.

A great agent is going to be someone who is very good at explaining what’s happening in the housing market in a way that’s easy to understand. But they’ll take it one step further than that. They’ll explain what’s going on and, specifically, what that means for you. That way you’re always in the loop and it's a lot easier to feel confident when you’re making a big decision. As Business Insider explains:

“Maybe you have a better rapport with one of the agents you're considering, or you just feel like they're easier to approach. You're going to be working closely with this person, so it's important to choose an agent you're comfortable with.”

A Data-Based Approach on How To Price Your House

While it may be tempting to pick the agent who suggests the highest asking price for your house, that strategy may cost you. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement when you see a bigger number, but overpricing your house can have consequences. It could mean your house will sit on the market longer because the higher price is actually turning away buyers.

Instead, partner with an agent who’s going to have an open conversation about how they recommend you should price your house. They won't throw out a number just to win your listing. A great agent will back up their number with solid data, explain their pricing strategy, and make sure you're both on the same page. As NerdWallet explains:

“An agent who recommends the highest price isn't always the best choice. Choose an agent who backs up the recommendation with market knowledge.”

A Fair, but Objective Negotiator

The home-selling process can be emotional, especially if you’ve been in your house for a long time. But that sentimental tie can make it harder to be objective during negotiations. That’s where a trusted professional can really make a difference.

They’re skilled negotiators who know how to stay calm under pressure. You can count on them to handle the back-and-forth and have your best interests at heart throughout the process. Not to mention, they’ll be able to rely on their market expertise and what they’re seeing work in other transactions to offer the best advice possible. As Rocket Mortgage explains:

“Whether this is your first or third time selling a house, listing agents work to help make the home selling process smoother and less stressful. These real estate professionals know the ins and outs of the industry and can help you secure the best deal.”

Bottom Line

Whether you're a first-time seller or you’ve been through this before, a great listing agent is the key to your success. Let’s connect so you have a skilled local expert by your side to guide you through every step of the process.

Posted in Seller