Every year, Gallup surveys Americans to determine their choice for the best long-term investment. Respondents are given a choice between real estate, stocks, gold, and savings accounts.
For the sixth year in a row, real estate has come out on top as the best long-term investment! That has not always been the case. Gallup explains:
“Between 2008 and 2010, covering most of the Great Recession period that saw plummeting home and stock values, Americans were as likely to name savings accounts or CDs as the best long-term investment as they were to name stocks or real estate.”
This year’s results showed that 35% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 27%. The full results are shown in the chart below.
Now that the real estate market has recovered, so has the belief of the American people in the stability of housing as a long-term investment.
In today’s real estate market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.
In a realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search
One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.
This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!
2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’
Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?
Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.
3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In
Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”
4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It
Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.
An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”
5. Document Your Home Visits
Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.
Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.
In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.
Home prices have been on the rise for the last seven years, leading many housing market analysts to conclude that first-time homebuyers are being shut out of the market due to affordability concerns.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports on the percentage of First-Time Home Buyers (FTHB) on a monthly and yearly basis. Their latest reportshows that FTHB’s made up 33% of buyers in March, which matches their reported share in 2018.
NAR uses survey data from their members to come up with this statistic, so their results do not include every transaction completed. Rather, they only show the transactions reported by members who complete the survey.
The other entity that reports on FTHB share is the American Enterprise Institute(AEI). The AEI uses data from mortgage applications that define an FTHB as “any borrower who did not have a mortgage for the preceding three years.”
This means the AEI measurement also includes former homeowners who transitioned out of a home they previously owned and re-entered the market after at least 3 years. The latest FTHB share data from AEI shows that first-time buyers made up 57.5% of all mortgages in August 2018. NAR’s data shows a 31% share for the same time period.
New research from the New York Federal Reserve shows that these traditional reports on FTHB share have been unable to give an accurate depiction of this group’s involvement in the market.
The NY Fed was able to take consumer credit data and identify when a mortgage payment entered a consumer’s credit report to determine when a first-time home purchase was made. Using this data, they were able to show that AEI’s reported FTHB share was consistently 10% higher. The NAR reports were right on par with their findings until 2010, when NAR’s share dropped to the 11% gap seen today.
So, what does this all mean?
First-time home buyers have not disappeared from the market as many analysts had believed. Buying a home is very much a part of the American Dream for younger generations, just like it had been for their parents and grandparents.
This also means that rising prices have not scared buyers away from the market. Many first-time buyers are making sacrifices to save their down payment and make their dream a reality.
If you are one of the many renters who is scrolling through listings on your phone every night dreaming of buying your own home, there are opportunities in every market to make that dream a reality!
If you are in the market to buy a home this year, you may be confused about how much money you need to come up with for your down payment. Many people you talk to will tell you that you need to save 20% or you won’t be able to secure a mortgage.
The truth is that there are many programs available that let you put down as little as 3%. Those who have served our country could qualify for a Veterans Affairs Home Loan (VA) without needing a down payment.
These programs have cut the savings time that many families would need to compile a large down payment from five or more years down to a year or two. This allows them to start building family wealth sooner.
So then, why do so many people believe that they need a 20% down payment to buy a home? There has to be a reason! Today, we want to talk about four reasons why putting 20% down is a good plan, if you can afford it.
1. Your interest rate will be lower.
Putting down a 20% down payment vs. a 3-5% down payment shows your lender/bank that you are more financially stable, thus a good credit risk. The more confident your bank is in your credit score and your ability to pay your loan, the lower the rate they will be willing to give you.
2. You’ll end up paying less for your home.
The bigger your down payment, the lower your loan amount will be for your mortgage. If you are able to pay 20% of the cost of your new home at the start of the transaction, you will only pay interest on the remaining 80%. If you put down a 5% down payment, the extra 15% on your loan will accrue interest and end up costing you more in the long run!
3. Your offer will stand out in a competitive market!
In a market where many buyers are competing for the same home, sellers like to see offers come in with 20% or larger down payments. The seller gains the same confidence that the bank did above. You are seen as a stronger buyer whose financing is more likely to be approved. Therefore, the deal will be more likely to go through!
4. You won’t have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Simply put, PMI is “an insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.”
As we mentioned earlier, when you put down less than 20% to buy a home, your lender/bank will see your loan as having more risk. PMI helps them recover their investment in you if you are unable to pay your loan. This insurance is not required if you are able to put down 20% or more.
Many times, home sellers looking to move up to a larger or more expensive home are able to take the equity they earn from the sale of their house to put down 20% on their next home.
If you are looking to buy your first home, you will have to weigh the benefits of saving a 20% down payment vs. the time and cost of continuing to rent while you save that amount.
If your plan for your future includes buying a home and you’re already saving for your down payment, let’s get together to help you decide what down payment size best fits with your long-term plan!
So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you through the entire process, and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to your potential buyers.
There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is access, followed by condition, financing, and price. There are many levels of access that you can provide to your agent so that he or she can show your home.
Here are five levels of access that you can give to buyers, along with a brief description:
- Lockbox on the Door – this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
- Providing a Key to the Home – although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
- Open Access with a Phone Call – the seller allows showings with just a phone call’s notice.
- By Appointment Only (example: 48-Hour Notice) – Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.
- Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2 pm or for only a couple of hours a day) – This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.
With more competition coming to the market this spring, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.
Over the last several years, many “baby boomers” have undergone a metamorphosis. Their children have finally moved out and they can now dream about their own future. For many, a change in lifestyle might necessitate a change in the type of home they live in.
That two-story, four-bedroom colonial with three bathrooms no longer fits the bill. Taxes are too high. Utilities are too expensive. Cleaning and repair are too difficult. When they decide to travel to be with friends and family, locking up the house is too time-consuming and worrisome.
Instead, a nice ranch home with 2-3 bedrooms and two baths might better fulfill their new needs and lifestyle. The challenge many “boomers” have faced when trying to downsize to the perfect new home has been a lack of inventory.
The average number of years a family stays in their home has increased by fifty percent since 2008, causing fewer houses to come to the market. During the same time, new home builders were concentrating most of their efforts on large, luxury, expensive houses.
However, that is starting to change.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau, sales of newly built, single-family homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 692,000 units in March. The great news is that more of those homes were sold at the lower end of the price range.
In a press release last week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explained that:
“The median sales price was $302,700, with strong gains in homes sold at lower price points. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $335,400.”
NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz offered further detail:
“We saw a large gain at lower price points where demand is strong. In March of 2019, 50% of new home sales were priced below $300,000, compared to 39% in March of 2018.”
If you are a “boomer” thinking of selling your old house in order to buy a new home that better fits your current lifestyle, now may be the perfect time!