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!

Feb. 26, 2024

The Truth About Down Payments




If you’re planning to buy your first home, saving up for all the costs involved can feel daunting, especially when it comes to the down payment. That might be because you’ve heard you need to save 20% of the home’s price to put down. Well, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. That means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.

As The Mortgage Reports says:

“Although putting down 20% to avoid mortgage insurance is wise if affordable, it’s a myth that this is always necessary. In fact, most people opt for a much lower down payment.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. In fact, for all homebuyers today it’s only 15%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers at just 8% (see graph below):

a graph of a number of blue squares

 

The big takeaway? You may not need to save as much as you originally thought.

Learn About Resources That Can Help You Toward Your Goal

According to Down Payment Resource, there are also over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and many of them are intended to help with down payments.

Plus, there are loan options that can help too. For example, FHA loans offer down payments as low as 3.5%, while VA and USDA loans have no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

With so many resources available to help with your down payment, the best way to find what you qualify for is by consulting with your loan officer or broker. They know about local grants and loan programs that may help you out.

Don’t let the misconception that you have to have 20% saved up hold you back. If you’re ready to become a homeowner, lean on the professionals to find resources that can help you make your dreams a reality. If you put your plans on hold until you’ve saved up 20%, it may actually cost you in the long run. According to U.S. Bank:

“. . . there are plenty of reasons why it might not be possible. For some, waiting to save up 20% for a down payment may “cost” too much time. While you’re saving for your down payment and paying rent, the price of your future home may go up.”

Home prices are expected to keep appreciating over the next 5 years – meaning your future home will likely go up in price the longer you wait. If you’re able to use these resources to buy now, that future price growth will help you build equity, rather than cost you more.

Bottom Line

Keep in mind that you don't always need a 20% down payment to buy a home. If you're looking to make a move this year, let’s connect to start the conversation about your homebuying goals.

Posted in Buyer
Feb. 22, 2024

Expert Home Price Forecasts for 2024 Revised Up




Over the past few months, experts have revised their 2024 home price forecasts based on the latest data and market signals, and they’re even more confident prices will rise, not fall.

So, let’s see exactly how experts’ thinking has shifted – and what’s caused the change.

2024 Home Price Forecasts: Then and Now

The chart below shows what seven expert organizations think will happen to home prices in 2024. It compares their first 2024 home price forecasts (made at the end of 2023) with their newest projections:

 a blue and white graph with text

 

The middle column shows that, at first, these experts thought home prices would only go up a little this year. But if you look at the column on the right, you'll see they've all updated their forecasts and now think prices will go up more than they originally thought. And some of the differences are major.

There are two big factors keeping such strong upward pressure on home prices. The first is how few homes are for sale right now. According to Business Insider:

Low home inventory is a chronic problem in the US. This has generally kept home prices up . . .”

A lack of housing inventory has been pushing prices up for a long time now – and that’s not expected to change dramatically this year. But what has changed a bit is mortgage rates.

Late last year when most housing market experts were calling for home prices to rise only a little bit in 2024, mortgage rates were up and buyer demand was more moderate.

Now that rates have come down from their peak last October, and with further declines expected over the course of the year, buyer demand has picked up. That increase in demand, along with an ongoing lack of inventory, is what’s caused the experts to feel the upward pressure on prices will be stronger than they expected a couple months ago.

A Look Forward To Get Ahead of the Next Forecast Revisions

Real estate experts regularly revise their home price forecasts as the housing market shifts. It’s a normal part of their job that ensures their projections are always up-to-date and factor in the latest changes in the housing market.

That means they’ll continue to revise their projections as the housing market changes, just as they’ve always done. How those forecasts change next is anyone’s guess, but pay attention to mortgage rates.

If they trend down as the year goes on, as they’re expected to do, that could lead to more buyer demand and even higher home price forecasts.

Basically, it’s all about supply and demand. With supply still so limited, anything that causes demand to go up will likely cause prices to go up, too.

Bottom Line

At first, experts believed home prices would only go up a little this year. But now, they've changed their minds and forecast prices will grow even more than they originally thought. Let’s connect so you know what to expect with prices in our area.

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 21, 2024

Strategic Tips for Buying Your First Home




Buying your first home is a big, exciting step and a major milestone that has the power to improve your life. As a first-time homebuyer, it's a dream you can make come true, but there are some hurdles you'll need to overcome in today’s housing market – specifically the limited supply of homes for sale and ongoing affordability challenges.

So, if you're ready, willing, and able to buy your first home, here are three tips to help you turn your dream into a reality.

Save Money with First-Time Homebuyer Programs                                       

Paying the initial costs of homeownership, like your down payment and closing costs, can feel a bit daunting. But there are many assistance programs for first-time homebuyers that can help you get a loan with little or no money upfront. According to Bankrate:

“. . . you might qualify for a first-time homebuyer loan or assistance. First-time buyer loans typically have more flexible requirements, such as a lower down payment and credit score. Many help buyers with closing costs and the down payment through grants and low-interest loans.

To find out more, talk to your state's housing authority or check out websites like Down Payment Resource.

Expand Your Options by Looking at Condos and Townhomes

Right now, there aren’t enough homes for sale for everyone who wants to buy one. That’s pushing home prices up and making affordability tight for buyers. One way to deal with that issue and find a home right now is to consider condos and townhomes. Realtor.com explains:

For many newbies, it might just be a matter of making a shift toward something they can better afford—like a condo or townhome. These lower-cost homes have historically been a stepping stone for buyers looking for a less expensive alternative to a single-family home.”

One reason why they may be more affordable is because they’re often smaller. But they still give you the chance to get your foot in the door and achieve your goal of owning a home and building equity. And that equity can help fuel your move into a larger home later on if you decide you need something bigger in the future. Hannah Jones, Senior Economic Analyst at Realtor.comsays:

Condos can help prospective homebuyers who perhaps have a smaller budget, but who are really determined to get a foothold in the market and start to accumulate some equity. It can be a really great entry point.”

Consider Pooling Your Resources To Buy a Multi-Generational Home

Another way to break into the market is by purchasing a home with friends or loved ones. That way you can split the cost of things like the mortgage and bills, to make it easier to afford a home. According to Money.com:

“Buying a home with another person has some obvious advantages in the mortgage department. With two incomes in the mix, buyers can likely qualify for a larger mortgage — a big help in today’s high-cost market.

Bottom Line

By exploring first-time homebuyer assistance, condos, townhomes, and multi-generational living, it can be easier to find and buy your first home. When you’re ready, let’s connect.

Posted in Buyer
Feb. 16, 2024

Achieve Your Dream of Homeownership with Condos and Townhomes



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Some Highlights

  • If you’re trying to buy a home but are having a hard time finding something in your budget, here’s something that can help: consider condos and townhomes.
  • They may better fit your budget, can help you start building equity, and tend to require minimal upkeep and less maintenance.
  • Looking at condos and townhomes can make it easier to find and buy a home. When you're ready, let’s connect.
Posted in Buyer
Feb. 14, 2024

A Feeling of Belonging

Why So Many People Fall in Love with Homeownership




Chances are at some point in your life you’ve heard the phrase, home is where the heart is. There’s a reason that’s said so often. Becoming a homeowner is emotional.

So, if you’re trying to decide if you want to keep on renting or if you’re ready to buy a home this year, here’s why it’s so easy to fall in love with homeownership.

Customizing to Your Heart’s Desire

Your house should be a space that’s uniquely you. And, if you’re a renter, that can be hard to achieve. When you rent, the paint colors are usually the standard shade of white, you don’t have much control over the upgrades, and you’ve got to be careful how many holes you put in the walls. But when you’re a homeowner, you have a lot more freedom. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

“The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle.”

Whether you want to paint the walls a cheery bright color or go for a dark moody tone, you can match your interior to your vibe. Imagine how it would feel to come home at the end of the day and walk into a space that feels like you.

Greater Stability for the Ones You Love Most

One of the hardest things about renting is the uncertainty of what happens at the end of your lease. Does your payment go up so much that you have to move? What if your landlord decides to sell the property? It’s like you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Jeff Ostrowski, a business journalist covering real estate and the economy, explains how homeownership can give you more peace of mind in a Money Geek article:

“Homeownership means you are the boss and have the biggest say in your lifestyle and family decisions. Suppose your kids are in public school and you don't want to risk having them change schools because your landlord doesn't renew your lease. Owning a home would remove much of the risk of having to move.”

You may also find you feel much more at home in the community once you own a house. That’s because, when you buy a home, you’re staking a claim and saying, I’m a part of this community. You’ll have neighbors, block parties, and more. And that’ll give you the feeling of being a part of something bigger. As the International Housing Association explains:

“. . . homeowning households are more socially involved in community affairs than their renting counterparts. This is due to both the fact that homeowners expect to remain in the community for a longer period of time and that homeowners have an ownership stake in the neighborhood.”

The Emotional High of Achieving Your Dream

Becoming a homeowner is a journey – and it may have been a long road to get to the point where you’re ready to take the plunge. If you’re seriously considering leaving behind your rental and making this commitment, you should know the emotions that come with this owning a home are powerful. You’ll be able to walk up to your front door every day and have that sense of accomplishment welcome you home. 

Bottom Line

A home is a place that reflects who you are, a safe space for the ones you love the most, and a reflection of all you’ve accomplished. Let’s connect if you’re ready to break up with your rental and buy a home.

Posted in Buyer
Feb. 7, 2024

Why Pre-Approval Is Even More Important This Year




On the road to becoming a homeowner? If so, you may have heard the term pre-approval get tossed around. Let’s break down what it is and why it’s important if you’re looking to buy a home in 2024.

What Pre-Approval Is

As part of the homebuying process, your lender will look at your finances to figure out what they’re willing to loan you. According to Investopedia, this includes things like your W-2, tax returns, credit score, bank statements, and more.

From there, they’ll give you a pre-approval letter to help you understand how much money you can borrow. Freddie Mac explains it like this:

A pre-approval is an indication from your lender that they are willing to lend you a certain amount of money to buy your future home. . . . Keep in mind that the loan amount in the pre-approval letter is the lender’s maximum offer. Ultimately, you should only borrow an amount you are comfortable repaying.”

Now, that last piece is especially important. While home affordability is getting better, it’s still tight. So, getting a good idea of what you can borrow can help you really wrap your head around the financial side of things. It doesn’t mean you should borrow the full amount. It just tells you what you can borrow from that lender.

This sets you up to make an informed decision about your numbers. That way you’re able to tailor your home search to what you’re actually comfortable with budget-wise and can act fast when you find a home you love.

Why Pre-Approval Is So Important in 2024

If you want to buy a home this year, there’s another reason you’re going to want to be sure you’re working with a trusted lender to make this a priority.

While more homes are being listed for sale, the overall number of available homes is still below the norm. At the same time, the recent downward trend in mortgage rates compared to last year is bringing more buyers back into the market. That imbalance of more demand than supply creates a bit of a tug-of-war for you.

It means you’ll likely find you have more competition from other buyers as more and more people who were sitting on the sidelines when mortgage rates were higher decide to jump back in. But pre-approval can help with that too.

Pre-approval shows sellers you mean business because you’ve already undergone a credit and financial check. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, says:

“Preapproval carries more weight because it means lenders have actually done more than a cursory review of your credit and your finances, but have instead reviewed your pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements. A preapproval means you’ve cleared the hurdles necessary to be approved for a mortgage up to a certain dollar amount.”

Sellers love that because that makes it more likely the sale will move forward without unexpected delays or issues. And if you may be competing with another buyer to land your dream home, why wouldn’t you do this to help stack the deck in your favor?

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home in 2024, know that getting pre-approved is going to be a key piece of the puzzle. With lower mortgage rates bringing more buyers back into the market, this can help you make a strong offer that stands out from the crowd.

Posted in Buyer
Feb. 5, 2024

Why Having Your Own Agent Matters When Buying a New Construction Home

 




Finding the right home is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers today. Right now, the supply of homes for sale is still low. But there is a bright spot. Newly built homes make up a larger percent of the total homes available for sale than normal. That’s why, if you’re craving more options, it makes sense to see if a newly built home is right for you.

But it’s important to remember the process of working with a builder is different than buying from a homeowner. And, while builders typically have sales agents on-site, having your own agent helps make sure you have proper representation throughout your homebuying journey. As Realtor.com says:

“Keep in mind that the on-site agent you meet at a new-construction office works for the builder. So, as the homebuyer, it’s a smart idea to bring in your own agent, as well, to help you negotiate and stay protected in the transaction.”

Here’s how having your own agent is key when you build or buy a new construction home.

Agents Know the Local Area and Market

It’s important to consider how the neighborhood and surrounding area may evolve before making your home purchase. Your agent is well-versed in the upcoming communities and developments that could influence your decision. One way a real estate agent can help is by reviewing the builder's site plan. For example, you’ll want to know if there are any plans to construct a highway or add a drainage ditch behind your prospective backyard.

Knowledge of Construction Quality and Builder Reputation

An agent also has expertise in the construction quality and reputation of different builders. They can give you insights into each one's track record, customer satisfaction, and construction practices. Armed with this information, you can choose a builder known for consistently delivering top-notch homes.

Assistance with Customization and Upgrades

The most obvious benefit of opting for new home construction is the opportunity to customize your home. Your agent will guide you through that process and share advice on the upgrades that are most likely to add long-term value to your home. Their expertise helps make sure you focus your budget on areas that will give you the greatest return on your investment later.

Understanding Builder Negotiations and Contracts

When it comes to working with builders, having a skilled negotiator on your side can make all the difference. Builder contracts can be complex. Your agent can help you navigate these contracts to make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions. Plus, agents are skilled negotiators who can advocate for you, potentially securing better deals, upgrades, or incentives throughout the process. As Realtor.com says:

“A good buyer’s agent will be able to review any contracts before you sign on the dotted line, ensuring you aren’t unwittingly agreeing to terms that only benefit the builder.” 

Bottom Line

If you are interested in buying or building a new construction home, having a trusted agent by your side can make a big difference. If you'd like to start that conversation, let’s connect.

Posted in Buyer
Jan. 31, 2024

What You Need To Know About Down Payments




Some Highlights

  • If you want to buy a home, you may not need as much for your down payment as you think.
  • There are various loan options for qualified buyers with down payments as low as 3.5% or even no down payment requirement. There are also thousands of programs available to help homebuyers with their down payments.
  • With the right resources, your down payment may be more within reach than you realize. To learn more about your options, let’s connect.
Posted in Buyer
Jan. 30, 2024

2 of the Factors That Impact Mortgage Rates




If you’re looking to buy a home, you’ve probably been paying close attention to mortgage rates. Over the last couple of years, they hit record lows, rose dramatically, and are now dropping back down a bit. Ever wonder why?

The answer is complicated because there’s a lot that can influence mortgage rates. Here are just a few of the most impactful factors at play.

Inflation and the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve (Fed) doesn’t directly determine mortgage rates. But the Fed does move the Federal Funds Rate up or down in response to what’s happening with inflation, the economy, employment rates, and more. As that happens, mortgage rates tend to respond. Business Insider explains:

The Federal Reserve slows inflation by raising the federal funds rate, which can indirectly impact mortgages. High inflation and investor expectations of more Fed rate hikes can push mortgage rates up. If investors believe the Fed may cut rates and inflation is decelerating, mortgage rates will typically trend down.”

Over the last couple of years, the Fed raised the Federal Fund Rate to try to fight inflation and, as that happened, mortgage rates jumped up, too. Fortunately, the expert outlook for inflation and mortgage rates is that both should become more favorable over the course of the year. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.comsays:

“[M]ortgage rates will continue to ease in 2024 as inflation improves . . .”

There’s even talk the Fed may actually cut the Fed Funds Rate this year because inflation is cooling, even though it’s not yet back to their ideal target.

The 10-Year Treasury Yield

Additionally, mortgage companies look at the 10-Year Treasury Yield to decide how much interest to charge on home loans. If the yield goes up, mortgage rates usually go up, too. The opposite is also true. According to Investopedia:

“One frequently used government bond benchmark to which mortgage lenders often peg their interest rates is the 10-year Treasury bond yield.”

Historically, the spread between the 10-Year Treasury Yield and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has been fairly consistent, but that’s not the case recently. That means, there’s room for mortgage rates to come down. So, keeping an eye on which way the treasury yield is trending can give experts an idea of where mortgage rates may head next.

Bottom Line

With the Fed meeting later this week, experts in the industry will be keeping a close watch to see what they decide and what impact it’ll have on the economy. To navigate any mortgage rate changes and their impact on your moving plans, it’s best to have a team of professionals on your side.

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 29, 2024

Will a Silver Tsunami Change the 2024 Housing Market?




Have you ever heard the term “Silver Tsunami” and wondered what it's all about? If so, that might be because there’s been lot of talk about it online recently. Let's dive into what it is and why it won't drastically impact the housing market.

What Does Silver Tsunami Mean?

A recent article from HousingWire calls it:

“. . . a colloquialism referring to aging Americans changing their housing arrangements to accommodate aging . . .”

The thought is that as baby boomers grow older, a significant number will start downsizing their homes. Considering how large that generation is, if these moves happened in a big wave, it would affect the housing market by causing a significant uptick in the number of larger homes for sale. That influx of homes coming onto the market would impact the balance of supply and demand and more.

The concept makes sense in theory, but will it happen? And if so, when?

Why It Won’t Have a Huge Impact on the Housing Market in 2024

Experts say, so far, a silver tsunami hasn’t happened – and it probably won't anytime soon. According to that same article from HousingWire:

“. . . the silver tsunami’s transformative potential for the U.S. housing market has not yet materialized in any meaningful way, and few expect it to anytime soon.”

Here’s just one reason why. Many baby boomers don’t want to move. Data from the AARP shows over half of the surveyed adults ages 65 and up plan to stay put and age in place in their current home rather than move (see chart below):

 

Clearly, not every baby boomer is planning to sell or move – and even those who do won’t do it all at once. Instead, it will be more gradual, happening slowly over time. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americansays:

Demographics are never a tsunami. The baby boomer generation is almost two decades of births. That means they're going to take about two decades to work their way through.”

Bottom Line

If you’re worried about a Silver Tsunami shaking up the housing market, don’t be. Any impact from baby boomers moving will be gradual over many years. Fleming sums it up best:

 

“Demographic trends, they don't tsunami. They trickle.”

Posted in Buyer