Mortgage rates are on the move

This week’s Freddie Mac press release headline “Mortgage Rates Exceed Six Percent for the First Time Since 2008” grabbed everyone’s attention.  Indeed, mortgage rates are on the move and what does that mean for you and the housing market?

Mortgage rates are on the move
Get pre-approved before home shopping

According to Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Sam Khater, “Mortgage rates continued to rise alongside hotter-than-expected inflation numbers this week, exceeding six percent for the first time since late 2008. Although the increase in rates will continue to dampen demand and put downward pressure on home prices, inventory remains inadequate. This indicates that while home price declines will likely continue, they should not be large.”

In her blog post, Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting for the National Association of Realtors, points out that the change in mortgage rates increased monthly payments about 60% compared to the same time last year. She also calls attention to the fact that the pace of rising rents is at a forty-year high! Regardless if you are renting or buying a home, housing affordability is declining.  Using a little math, she underscores how increasing rents outpace a fixed-rate mortgage on the purchase of a home.

Yes, mortgage rates are increasing. But a little history will put things in perspective. We all know that mortgage rates reached its peak in the early 1981 as a result of the deep recession of the late 1970’s.  Shortly afterward, average mortgage rates dropped of the next several decades (albeit the occasional peak). 

However, after the peak housing market of 2007, average mortgage rates dropped slightly in 2008 as a reaction to the market crashes and a decimated housing market. It wasn’t until five years later and average mortgage rates hovering in 3 percent range, that the housing market once again became broadly attractive to owner occupants (as opposed to investors). Mortgage rates have been averaging below 4 percent since then, with the exception of 2018 when rates rose above 4 percent.

Mortgage rates are on the move. Average mortgage rates are now above 6 percent, and there may be a silver lining.  Many are hoping that the rising interest rates will reduce home prices (although that remains to be seen).  However, after the brief rate shock is over, increased mortgage rates will likely incentivize banks to lend which could increase the pool of home buyers

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2022

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

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Get a mortgage preapproval

Many years ago, the home buying process was very different than it is today.  For example, home buyers relied on their real estate agents to qualify them to figure out how much home they could afford, instead of getting a mortgage preapproval.  Making an offer on a house was done without a mortgage preapproval letter.  And the mortgage application was usually made after the contract was ratified.  The process may seem backwards by today’s standards, but that’s how it was done. 

real estate mortgage preapproval
Real estate is voted as best investment

The problem with the old process was that sometimes the loan was denied, causing heartache and anguish for the homebuyer and seller. Times have changed.  In today’s market, homebuyers are expected to be more organized, which helps streamline the homebuying process. The includes getting a mortgage preapproval letter.

You may have heard it called a prequalification or a preapproval, the purpose is the same.  The preapproval letter not only qualifies you, but also gives the home seller confidence that you can complete the sale.

To preapprove you, your lender checks your credit and reviews your financial documents.  This will give the lender an idea of what loan program is best for you, as well as calculating your debt-to-income ratio to determine your maximum loan amount.

Your preapproval gives you a head start on the home buying process.  When the lender reviews your credit and finances, they can see if there are any obstacles to getting your loan.  The lender can help structure your loan in advance, which will guide you in your preparations.  Additionally, the preapproval letter will show your agent and sellers that you’re a serious buyer because you’ve already started the mortgage process.

Don’t feel pressured to work with any lender, even if they are affiliated with your agent.  As a homebuyer, you have right to choose the lender you want.  Some buyers will go where they bank for a mortgage, because there is a mutual familiarity.  Some look for the best interest rate, and others look for personal service.  It can help to understand the lender better by comparing several by talking to a local loan officer.  The bottom line, however, is to make sure the lender is licensed and is knowledgeable of the jurisdiction where you are buying.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2022

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Rent vs Buy 2021

rent vs buy 2021
Increasing rent

Thinking of your Rent vs Buy 2021 question? Consider Quarterly Residential Vacancies and Homeownership released by the US Census (census.gov) for the third quarter of 2020 is very interesting.  First the good news is that the US homeownership rate is the highest it’s been in a decade!  The seasonally adjusted US homeownership rate of 68.2 percent recorded in the second quarter 2020, was the highest rate since 2007.  In fact, the homeownership rate hasn’t had two consecutive quarters above 67 percent since 2009.  As you remember, the homeownership rate progressively dropped through 2015 to hover in the 63 percent range, which was the lowest homeownership rate in several generations.

rent vs buy 2021
Homeownership rate 1997-2020

The story of the housing market this year has been nothing short of phenomenal.  Initially thwarted by a dismal spring market, only to rebound at a record setting pace.  Even with historically low existing home sale inventory and rising home prices, eager home buyers are actively pursuing homeownership. 

On the flip side, the second and third quarter US rental vacancy rates are the lowest since 2008.  And the mean US rental asking rent of $1,600 marks a high point as rents continue to creep higher.  Of course, homeownership rates and rental vacancies will vary significantly depending on the region and locality.  However, looking at the US averages is a good benchmark to see trends develop.

For many, comparing increasing rent versus a low interest mortgage rates makes buying a home the answer to the rent vs buy 2021 question.  A November 8, 2012 article from Realtor Magazine (Rising Rents Press More Americans to Make Big Decision; magazine.realtor) describes the renter’s plight, by saying, “Rental price expectations continue to rise and are much higher than home price expectations…” This sentiment continues to hold true.  Besides escaping rising rents, many home buyers are drawn to the touted benefits of homeownership, including increased well-being and wealth-building.

How do you know if renting or buying is better?  First, when deciding on the rent vs buy 2021 question, there are many other considerations besides rising rents.  Consider how long you intend to live in the area.  Renting is often the housing solution if you think your residence in the area is temporary. 

Next, if you don’t already have one, create a housing budget.  Besides deciding on how much rent you can afford, talk to a mortgage lender to get prequalified to further help you understand how much you can afford to pay for mortgage or rent. 

Once you have a budget of what you can afford, create an estimated renter’s and home owner’s budget to compare.  Besides the basic housing payment (rent or mortgage), there are other items that need to be taken into account and can vary depending if you rent or own.  These other items include (but not limited to) monthly utilities, insurance, and maintenance.  To help with estimating the “extras,” start by asking the landlord and/or home seller for twelve months of utility bills (Montgomery County MD requires home sellers to provide this for owner-occupied homes).  Ask your insurance agent for a quote to compare renters’ vs homeowners’ insurance. 

Home maintenance is usually forgotten and not budgeted.  Tenants typically have minimal maintenance, which is an attraction to renting.  Generally, home maintenance for owners usually includes having seasonal or annual inspections on the home’s systems (e.g., HVAC, roof, etc).  Additionally, you have to budget to repair and/or replace systems as they age. 

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2020

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/12/13/rent-vs-buy-2021/

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Real Estate Agent Personality

real estate agent personality
Working with a real estate agent (infographic from keepingcurrentmatters.com)

Many home buyers and sellers don’t give much thought in choosing their real estate agent. They may decide to work with an agent after meeting once or a phone call.  But having the right agent by your side can mean the difference in having an event-free home buying or selling experience, or one that is full of pitfalls and non-communication.  Besides professional expertise and experience, is there a real estate agent personality trait that gives you an advantage?

Lee Davenport conducted a groundbreaking study comparing real estate agent personality differences (Home Sales Success and Personality Types: Is There a Connection?; Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education; 2018; Vol 21, No 1; p29-57.)  The study investigated the question whether there is a connection between successful real estate agents and their personality type.  Success was measured through lead generation (e.g., meeting new clients).  Although you might think there is a personality that is better suited for real estate, the study concluded that there wasn’t one specific personality type that correlated to real estate success.  However, he suggested that there should be further research to understand why there is no difference in the success among real estate personality types.

Back in 2014, Graham Wood wrote an article for NAR that also questioned if there was a perfect agent personality (Are You Sure Your Agents Have the Right Personality for the Job? nar.realtor; April 11, 2014).  Although the article was not a study published in a peer reviewed journal like Lee Davenport’s, it does provide food for thought and an obvious conclusion. 

Wood, like Davenport, questioned which personality dimension on the DISC test was better suited for real estate.  After testing himself, Wood believed his personality traits were not suited for a people-skills intensive field (such as real estate sales).  However, after interviewing several brokers, he learned that there is place in real estate for pretty much any personality type.  The DISC (discprofile.com) is a behavioral assessment tool that helps people be more self-aware, and increase productivity. 

What should you look for when choosing your agent?  First, make sure they are licensed in the area you intend to buy and/or sell.  I can tell you that there are agents who try to do business over state lines where they are not licensed.  It happens more than you think. 

Second, what’s their experience and expertise?  In today’s market, most agents don’t confine themselves to specific neighborhoods.  The idea of “neighborhood specialists” is antiquated.  Information is abundant to agents and consumers, and can easily be applied to any neighborhood.  You can learn more about an agent by how they handle adversity. Instead of asking about how many sales they have or neighborhood experience, ask about specific transactions where they overcame obstacles.

Other considerations include getting a referral from a friend or relative. But referrals should be vetted.  Just because your friend had a good experience with their agent, doesn’t guarantee success for you.  Sometimes agents and clients connect and work well together, and sometimes they don’t. Just in case, make sure you can walk away from your agent by ensuring your buyer or listing agreement provides for termination without a penalty.

Also, it doesn’t hurt asking the agent for a couple of references from recent clients.  You can get insight into the agent’s business by calling the references and asking about their experience with the agent. 

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2020

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/11/28/real-estate-agent-personality/

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Home Buying Persistence

home buying persistence
How to prepare for the bidding war.

Before the health lockdowns, home sale inventory was already well below the volume to maintain a healthy housing market.  Many home owners decided to put off their spring and summer home sales this year as a result of health concerns, further reducing the available home sale inventory.  The result was that the number of home buyers competing for one home increased. Low home sale inventory continues to be an issue, and there is still a high probability of competing with other buyer offers on a home.  As a home buyer, you are probably wondering how to win the multiple offer scenario. It comes down to home buying persistence.

The obvious way to win a bidding war is to make the most attractive offer to the seller.  But that’s easier said than done.  The reality is that beating out multiple home buyer offers means you need to be organized, and go in with your best offer.  And if you lose out on the home, don’t give up. 

Get organized.

First, talk to a mortgage lender before looking at homes.  Have the loan officer review your credit and income to determine what mortgage program is best for you, and get pre-approved.  Once you’re pre-approved, you can be confident about making an offer on a home.  Your mortgage application should also be easier because you’ve already given documents to the loan officer.  But the most important reason for a pre-approval is for the seller to feel confident with your offer.

When the seller reviews multiple offers, they usually rank offers with contingencies lower than the non-contingent offers.  Rather than foregoing the home inspection, consider having a pre-offer home inspection.  The pre-offer inspection will allow you to determine the condition of the home so your offer will be more attractive to the seller. 

As a home buyer, you should try to gain some insight into what the seller wants .  You may think that the seller just wants the highest price.  But that’s not always true. In multiple offer situations, the home seller looks at all factors, including price AND terms (including deposit, closing date, contingencies, etc.). 

Should you use an escalation clause?  Maybe.  In a multiple offer situation, a clean offer is usually best.  This means making your best offer.  But if you decide to use an escalation clause, make sure you are aware of the cap (limit to price), and your escalation factor.  Make your escalation factor is worthwhile for the seller; meaning if you’re the highest price by $500 or $1,000, the seller may consider other factors in their decision.  Also make sure that your escalation is in line with the estimated appraised value.

Don’t get discouraged if you lose out in multiple offer scenarios. Stick with it and have home buying persistence. Sometimes, reassessing your home buying strategy may be warranted. And your home buying persistence may mean that you look at alternative sales.

If you’re feeling a little skittish about encountering a multiple offer scenario, or already have lost a bidding war, look for homes that have little or no home buyer competition. Besides looking at “ugly” or fixer-upper homes, you may also consider FSBO (sale by owner), bank owned homes, and auctions.  Ask your agent to canvas the neighborhood asking homeowners if they want to sell, as well as calling expired listings.

Fixer-upper homes have potential and the price can usually be negotiated. If you’re worried about the cost of renovations on fixer-uppers, talk to your loan officer about renovation loans, such as the FHA 203k.  Renovation loans provide you the funding to acquire the property, and the funds to rehab the property.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2020

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/11/13/home-buying-persistence/

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.