Real Estate Thanksgiving

real estate thanksgiving
A Real Estate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to take stock and be thankful.  Although the original Thanksgiving may have had a religious purpose, today’s secular holiday is about traditions.  However, it seems as if the tradition of enjoying a peaceful meal with family and friends has been increasingly difficult over the past few years.  But since the election is over, let’s try to talk about something worthy of discussion (at least until the next election cycle begins), such as real estate and housing. Yes, it’s a “Real Estate Thanksgiving.”

Why shouldn’t we focus on something we all can get behind? There is a good chance that your dinner guests will include someone will be moving next year.  Whether they are buying, selling, or renting a home, someone at the dinner table will be affected by such issues as housing affordability, mortgage rates, and availability of homes.

Things to talk about during your Real Estate Thanksgiving might be about mortgages, home sales, home prices, rent, maintenance, etc.  The topics are seemingly endless.

Talking about mortgages during the Real Estate Thanksgiving.  The current news is about mortgage interest rates.  How high will mortgage rates go?  Housing experts agree that mortgage rates will likely be about 5 percent next year (although the Fed just announced they may hold off on interest rate hikes after spring).  Paying more interest on your mortgage may not be your idea of positively affecting home sales.  However, increasing mortgage rates typically moderate home price growth because of affordability.  Another silver lining of increasing interest rates is a stimulated lending environment.  As a result, mortgage companies will likely further loosen lending requirements, which will increase the home buyer pool.

Real Estate Thanksgiving and home sales could focus on the reasons for the fall slowdown.  Will home sales rebound this spring?  You’re probably aware that home sales have dropped off during the fall.  Major media outlets have grasped the news and created the meme depicting “housing bubble 2.0.”  You can’t really blame them because there are many economists who are projecting bleak home sales to continue through spring.

The main reason for a disappointing 2019 forecast given by many industry insiders is affordability.  I contend that this rationale is shallow and one-dimensional.  There is no doubt that rising interest rates and increasing home prices are on the minds of home buyers.  However, the lack of home sale inventory is a dimension that is often forgotten when discussing home sales and rentals.  The lack of available homes for buyers and tenants to choose has forced many into fierce competition.  The result has been upward pressure on home prices and rents.

You have to also consider the economy at your Real Estate Thanksgiving. The strength of the economy is an aspect affecting the housing market that many haven’t discussed.  Whether you want to admit it or not, the economy is the strongest it has been in decades.  Consumer outlook is optimistic.  Home buyers and renters have expressed confidence about their job prospects too.  Employers are competing for talent, influencing the highest wage increases in over a decade.

Commenting on the economy, First American chief economist Mark Fleming believes that the economy will be a major force in the housing market (How Will a Potential September Rate Hike Impact Existing-Home Sales?;; September 18, 2018).  One of the features of his analysis for 2019 is “It’s the Economy and First-Time Home Buyer Demand, Stupid.”  He described a pent-up demand from a wave of millennial of first-time home buyers who will be in the market next year.

Fleming explained that home sales slump during an adjustment period that home buyers undergo when interest rates increase.  The same thing occurred in 2010 when rates increased from 4.5 to 5 percent.  However, the economy was struggling at that time, and home sales were stagnant.  Fleming described First American’s positive housing forecasts overcoming rising interest rates, saying,

“According to our Potential Home Sales Model, the boost from the strong economy and first-time home buyer demand should overcome any downward pressure from rising rates on home sales.”

Original article is published at

By Dan Krell. Copyright © 2018.

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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.

Programs to Help Home Buyers

by Dan Krell (c) 2009.

Tempted by terrific deals but frustrated by lack of financing, many home buyers are holding back from jumping into the real estate market. However, home buyers who qualify for a mortgage find themselves held back because they do not have the funds for their down payment or closing costs. If you are considering a home purchase this spring but find that financing and personal funds are limited, a few options you may want to consider include the FHA mortgage, the Maryland Mortgage Program, and the American Dream Downpayment Initiative.

While conventional financing has been reduced by increasingly restrictive underwriting guidelines, the FHA mortgage has re-emerged and re-established itself as the mortgage of choice for many home buyers ( The FHA mortgage’s low down payment, flexible underwriting, and provisions for gift funds make it clear why it is a poplar way to finance home purchases:

First, even though the down payment requirement for the FHA mortgage increased to 3.5% last fall, it is still lower than most conventional mortgages. Compared to a 5% or 10% down payment conventional mortgage, a home buyer needs thousands less to purchase a home.

Second, if you experienced past credit problems you may find it increasingly difficult to qualify for a mortgage. However, FHA’s flexible underwriting allows home buyers to have had past credit issues with documented mitigating circumstances and sufficient re-established credit.

Lastly, if you are short on funds, the FHA mortgage will not only allow the seller to contribute up to 6% of the sales price towards your closing costs, a family member may gift you the amount you need for your down payment as well! Of course, the source of funds needs to be carefully documented, but the combination of seller assistance and family gift could allow you to purchase a home with very little money down.

Another home buyer program is the Maryland Mortgage Program (, offered through the State of Maryland’s Community Development Administration. The Maryland Mortgage Program includes several programs, when combined, can also allow you to purchase a home with little money down. First, the program offers mortgages through Community Development Administration (CDA) financing, which feature fixed, low interest rates. Second, the program offers the House Keys 4 Employees program, which matches contributions from participating employers (up to $5,000). And third, the program offers grant assistance through CDA for down payment and closing costs (either 2% or 3% repayable grant).

A final home buyer resource is the American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI) offered through the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The program is a government subsidized down payment and closing cost program for first time homebuyers. Since funding is limited throughout the country, Montgomery County has specific eligibility guidelines.
Since each program may have specific eligibility requirements and funding limitations, you should check with the each program provider to see if you qualify; and although FHA guidelines are well established, you should check with your FHA lender for specific credit and underwriting requirements as you may find that many FHA lenders impose additional credit requirements and other limitations on top of the flexible FHA underwriting guidelines. Finally, because interest rates and fees vary from lender to lender, HUD recommends that you compare rates and lender fees.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 23, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dan Krell